Top football recruiters of the year
Recruiting is a team effort. While one coach might be the lead recruiter and develop the best relationship with a player, in the end it takes the whole team to make a prospect feel comfortable. Still, there are some who separate themselves from the pack each year and this is the our list of the top 25 recruiters. These coaches were the key in helping their programs land some of the nation's best players. But ask anyone on this list and they'd remind you it was a team effort. And that's probably part of what makes them successful to begin with. Recruiters are listed in alphabetical order.
Top Football Recruiters Of The Year
|Jarrett Anderson, TCU
2011 prospects: David Bush, ATH (Tyler, Texas/John Tyler), Chris Hackett, S (Tyler, Texas/John Tyler), Jamie Byrd, S (Dade City, Fla./Pasco)
Anderson is regarded as one of the most underrated recruiters in the country, especially coming from a non-BCS school. He's one of the aces for Gary Patterson's TCU program and is always strong in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and east Texas in general. This past recruiting season, he had his hand in landing teammates Bush and Hackett, and he helped the Horned Frogs flip Byrd from Boise State right before signing day.
|Charlie Baggett, Tennessee
2011 prospects: DeAnthony Arnett, WR (Saginaw, Mich./Saginaw), Curt Maggitt, OLB (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer), Cameron Clear, OT (Memphis, Tenn./Memphis Central)
In his first full season recruiting with the Volunteers, Baggett helped Derek Dooley land two ESPNU 150 members in Arnett and Maggitt. This was a thing of beauty especially considering that Baggett spent last season with the St. Louis Rams. In addition, the Vols came out of nowhere to land these two key pieces for this class. Tennessee and Baggett also beat Alabama and others for Clear.
|Tim Beck, Nebraska
2011 prospects: Aaron Green, RB (San Antonio/James Madison), Jamal Turner, ATH (Arlington, Texas/Sam Houston), Ameer Abdullah, RB (Homewood, Fla./Homewood), Tyler Moore, OT (Clearwater, Fla./Countryside)
Beck knows the state of Texas well, after coaching high school ball at Turner (Carrollton, Texas) and Mansfield. Knowing the area well helped him reel in two key recruits for Bo Pelini and his Cornhuskers in Green and Turner. He was also a key figure in landing Moore from the Sunshine State even though Moore had big-time family connections with the program. Beck also helped Nebraska land Abdullah, a prospect who became a very hot commodity late in the process.
|Mike Bobo, Georgia
2011 prospects: Jay Rome, TE (Valdosta, Ga./Valdosta), Malcolm Mitchell, WR (Valdosta, Ga./Valdosta), Ray Drew, DE (Thomasville, Ga./Thomas County Central), Christian LeMay, QB (Mint Hill, N.C./Butler)
It was a great year for the Bulldogs in the Peach State, especially in southern Georgia. This is an area very familiar to Bobo, as he played his high school ball in Thomasville, Ga. Rome, Mitchell, Drew, OT Xzavier Ward (Moultrie, Ga./Colquitt) and QB Nick Marshall (Rochelle, Ga./Wilcox County) were all southern Georgia standouts. Bobo was also a key figure for Georgia in landing LeMay from North Carolina.
|Lawrence Dawsey, Florida State
2011 prospects: James Wilder Jr., ATH (Tampa Bay, Fla./Plant Senior), Kelvin Benjamin, WR (Belle Glade, Fla./Glades Central), Jordan Prestwood, OT (Plant City, Fla./Plant City)
At this time last year, Florida State was chasing the dream of landing Wilder and Benjamin. Wilder was Florida's while Benjamin strongly favored the Hurricanes and Gators. Dawsey did a magnificent job of keeping the Noles in the game, then closing the deal. He also turned Prestwood away from the Fighting Irish and landed two good commitments from Jacksonville, Fla., in Eric Beverly and Derrick Mitchell.
|Luke Fickell, Ohio State
2011 prospects: Curtis Grant, ILB (Richmond, Va./Hermitage), Ryan Shazier, OLB (Plantation, Fla./Plantation)
Although Ohio State is an easy sell and one of the elite programs in college football, recruiting to the Buckeyes is still a difficult chore in today's college football world. It takes hard work and a daily grind. That's what Fickell had to do in landing Grant as well as a trio of other linebackers to Columbus. He also reeled in South Florida standout Jeremy Cash (Plantation, Fla./Plantation).
|Eddie Gran, Florida State
2011 prospects: Bobby Hart, OT (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas), Rashad Greene, WR (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas), Nile Lawrence-Stample, DT (Davie, Fla./Nova), Devonta Freeman, RB (Miami/Miami Central)
After spending 19 years recruiting the talent-rich South Florida area, Gran has become entrenched in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties and built a vast network of relationships. That helped him secure recruits like Hart, Greene and Lawrence-Stample. However, Freeman could end up being the steal of this spectacular FSU class. Gran is truly one of the nation's best recruiters.
|Tim Horton, Arkansas
2011 prospects: Brey Cook, OG (Springdale, Ark./Har-Ber), Mitch Smothers, OG (Springdale, Ark./Springdale), Demetrius Dean, TE (Fayetteville, Ark./Fayetteville)
Horton is the Hogs' recruiting coordinator, and he helped steer Arkansas to a top-25 class. He was key in the Razorbacks' landing key recruits like offensive linemen Cook, Smothers and Marcus Danenhauer (Bentonville, Ark./Bentonville). Horton was also a key figure in the recruitment of quarterback Brandon Allen (Fayetteville, Ark./Fayetteville), wide receiver Davyon McKinney (Forrest City, Ark./Forrest City), defensive end Grady Ollison (Malvern, Ark./Malvern), fullback Kiero Small (Baltimore/Hartnell) and running back Kody Walker (Jefferson City, Mo./Jefferson City).
|Clint Hurtt, Louisville
2011 prospects: Teddy Bridgewater, QB (Miami/Northwestern), Gerod Holliman, S (Miami/Southridge), Eli Rogers, WR (Miami/Northwestern), Bryant Dubose, DE (Oakland Park, Fla./Northeast)
Louisville was one of the biggest surprises in recruiting this season, and Hurtt -- ESPN.com's recruiter of the year -- was a big reason.
|David Kelly, Central Florida
2011 prospects: Toby Jackson, DE (Griffin, Ga./Navarro College), Cameron Henderson, DE (Birmingham, Ala./Navarro College), Tarik Cook, C (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson), DaMarcus Smith, QB (Louisville, Ky./Seneca)
How many college football fans really know the name of David Kelly? He proved once again that he is one of the nation's finest recruiters after landing a great haul for George O'Leary and the Knights. He was personally responsible for a dozen of UCF's 29 signees, and that list includes recruits from Colorado, Kentucky, Georgia, Texas and Florida. Last year Kelly did very well in South Florida, and this year he attacked the country.
|Tosh Lupoi, California
2011 prospects: Todd Barr, DT (Lakewood, Calif./Lakewood), Avery Walls, S (McDonough, Ga./Eagles Landing), Brennan Scarlett, DE (Portland, Ore./Central Catholic)
Lupoi has been arguably the top recruiter out west for a few seasons now. He's a young coach who relates very well to today's college football prospect. Lupoi gets on these recruits early and earns their trust. He had another big year, landing nine prospects for the Bears. What's amazing is that he landed recruits all through California as well as Oregon, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Georgia.
|G.A. Mangus, South Carolina
2011 prospects: Damiere Byrd, ATH (Sicklerville, N.J./Timber Creek), Rory Anderson, TE (Powder Springs, Ga./McEachern), Tanner McEvoy, ATH (Oradell, N.J./Bergen Catholic)
Mangus was the lead on seven signings for the Gamecocks. Three came from New Jersey, where the program has had very little presence in the past but could make a major future impact thanks to Mangus.
|Chuck Martin, Notre Dame
2011 prospects: Stephon Tuitt, DE (Monroe, Ga./Monroe Area), DaVaris Daniels, WR (Vernon Hills, Ill./Vernon Hills), Josh Atkinson, CB (Livermore, Calif./Granada)
The battle for Tuitt with Georgia Tech alone gets Martin on this list. He secured the ESPNU 150 defensive end early, lost him to Georgia Tech for a brief time, then made a final visit a day later and got him back to close a strong defensive line class for the Irish.
|Derek Mason, Stanford
2011 prospects: James Vaughters, ILB (Tucker, Ga./Tucker), Ronnie Harris, CB (Atlanta, Ga./Westlake)
Vaughters was one of the top 10 prospects in Georgia, and Harris is another strong prospect from the Peach State. Mason also assisted on the recruitment of Wayne Lyons (Oakland Park, Fla./Dillard) and has helped Stanford establish itself in the Southeast.
|Ed Orgeron, USC
2011 prospects: Christian Heyward, DT (San Diego/Point Loma), Greg Townsend Jr., DE (Beverly Hills, Calif./Beverly Hills), Aundrey Walker, OG (Cleveland/Glenville), Max Wittek, QB (Corona Del Mar, Calif./Mater Dei), Antwaun Woods, DT (Woodland Hills, Calif./Woodland Hills-Taft)If a Hall of Fame for recruiters ever exists, there's little doubt that Orgeron would be in it. He secured virtually every big name in USC's class, despite being hampered with a pedestrian season and looming NCAA sanctions. Orgeron just keeps bringing in the elite talent.
|Don Pellum, Oregon|
2011 prospects: DeAnthony Thomas, ATH (Los Angeles/Crenshaw), Anthony Wallace, ILB (Dallas/Skyline), Rahim Cassell, OLB (Lakewood, Calif./Lakewood)
Pellum is one sharp, experienced coach who pulled one of the signing day shockers when Oregon landed Thomas, a former USC commitment. Pellum recruits Los Angeles and Long Beach and is very well connected. The recruits love him, as he makes them feel at ease, as though they have known him forever. Oregon has been second to Southern Cal many times when it comes to recruiting Los Angeles kids, but not this year thanks to Thomas.
|Sam Pittman, North Carolina
2011 prospects: Kiaro Holts, OT (Indianapolis/Warren Central), Landon Turner, OG (Harrisonburg, Va./Harrisonburg), Devonte Brown, DT (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt), Brandon Ellerbe, S (Wadesboro, N.C./Anson Senior)
Dealing with negative recruiting and the uncertainty of NCAA punishment, Pittman outworked his competition to bring talent to Chapel Hill on both sides of the line. He also assisted on the signing of Delvon Simmons (McKeesport, Pa./McKeesport), a signing day shocker.
|Anthony Poindexter, Virginia
2011 prospects: Darius Jennings, ATH (Baltimore/Gilman School), Dominique Terrell, ATH (Manassas, Va./Osbourn Senior), Brandon Phelps, CB (Damascus, Md./Damascus)
Poindexter was the lead recruiter on more than a third of Virginia's top-20 class and established himself as a force to be reckoned with against outsiders trying to grab the top in-state prospects. He fought off Miami for Terrell and Ohio State for Jennings.
|Robert Prunty, Texas Tech
2011 prospects: Branden Jackson, OLB (McKeesport, Pa./McKeesport), Desimon Green, DE (Clairton, Pa./Clairton), J.J. Gaines, ATH (Irving, Texas/Nimitz), Leon Mackey, DE (Wilmington, Del./Hinds)
Prunty was once the head coach at Hargrave Military Academy, so his familiarity of players, especially on the East Coast, was a major advantage. Jackson and Green were two of the top defensive line prospects in Pennsylvania, while Mackey was a highly coveted juco player.
|Joe Rudolph, Wisconsin
2011 prospects: A.J. Jordan, WR (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison), Jesse Hayes, DE (Cincinnati/Moeller), Austin Traylor, ATH (Columbus, Ohio/Walnut Ridge)
Three of the Badgers' top four prospects came from Ohio, and that's where Rudolph did his best work. All in all, he was the lead recruiter on six of the program's signees from the Buckeye State.
|Jeff Scott, Clemson
2011 prospects: Tony Steward, ILB (St. Augustine, Fla./Pedro Menendez), Charone Peake, WR (Roebuck, S.C./Dorman), Cortez Davis, S (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland)
Steward was a lifelong FSU fan, but on signing day he chose the Tigers over the Seminoles in part because of his relationship with Scott. Peake is arguably the top offensive in-state prospect, and Davis gives Clemson another solid defensive back from the state of Florida.
|Sal Sunseri, Alabama
2011 prospects: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha), Trey DePriest, OLB (Akron, Ohio/Springfield), Jeoffrey Pagan, DE (Asheville, N.C./Asheville)
Sunseri does his work with out-of-state prospects and was as good as ever this year with the late get of Kouandjio after the nation's top offensive tackle had publicly announced he was signing with rival Auburn on national signing day.
|Trooper Taylor, Auburn
2011 prospects: Gregory Robinson, OG (Thibodaux, La./Thibodaux), Robenson Therezie, S (Miami/Miami), Quan Bray, ATH (LaGrange, Ga./Troup County Comprehensive), Jermaine Whitehead, ATH (Greenwood, Miss./Amanda Elzy)
When it comes to snatching out-of-state recruits for Auburn, Taylor is the man. The late steal of Whitehead from the two Mississippi schools was the icing on the cake, but grabbing Robinson from LSU and assisting on TE Brandon Fulse (Fort Meade, Fla./Fort Meade Senior) were his biggest catches.
|Tommy Thigpen, Auburn
2011 prospects: Erique Florence, S (Valley, Ala./Valley), Jonathan Rose, CB (Leeds, Ala./Leeds), Kris Frost, ATH (Matthews, N.C./Butler)
Florence was a longtime lean, and Rose was another highly touted in-state prospect. But it didn't appear that Auburn was in the final group for Frost until he ended up signing his letter of intent with the Tigers.
|Frank Wilson, LSU
2011 prospects: Anthony Johnson, DT (New Orleans/O. Perry Walker), La'El Collins, OT (Baton Rouge, La./Redemptorist), Kenny Hilliard, RB (Patterson, La./Patterson), Jarvis Landry, WR (Lutcher, La./Lutcher)
The top in-state signees call themselves "The Fam," and Wilson might as well be the patriarch. He was either the lead recruit or assisted on virtually every top signing in the Tigers' class.
Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at email@example.com.