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Recruiting: Traditional Power Programs Continue To Reload

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The "arms race" for the 2013 signing day is already at a fast jog. Some football powers have already secured a sufficent amount of top level talent; for others the groundwork has been laid.

Here is an early peek at some of the elite programs that have already made a splash.

Michigan under second year head coach Brady Hoke is flying high. The Wolverines have 16 early pledges; eight are 4-star rated players while three others are 5-stars.

Top-ranked OG Patrick Kugler comes from good stock as his dad is the offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kugler earned all-state recognition as a sophomore. He is a dominant, nasty and intense player.

safety Dymonte Thomas (6'1-180) from Alliance, Ohio had 801 yards and ninr touchdowns as a running back.

One player to watch is lefty QB Shane Morris from Warren, Michigan. The 6-foot-3, 190 pound prospect shows great leadership ability. He could be a diamond in the rough, having only been recruited early by the likes of Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Central Michigan, Syracuse and Toledo. His approach to the game remind some close to him to former Wolverines liuke Tom Brady, Jim Harbaugh or lefty Rick Leach. He has quick feet and delivers the ball quickly as a pro-style passer.

USC already has a commitment for the 2015 recruiting class.

David Sills (6'1-160 QB) has been a starter at Red Lion Christian Academy in Bear, Delaware since 2011, when he was only in 8th grade. He pledged to the Trojans on Feb. 5, 2010, when he was in 7th grade. He has been under the watchful eye of quarterback guru Steve Clarkson since he was 10 years old.

In his first career start last fall, Sills threw a 74-yard touchdown pass on target to WR Jahmere Irvin. He is being called a natural passer who is cool and collected.

The only commitment that USC currently has for 2013 is 5-star DE Kenny Bigelow (6'3-280) from - get this - Bear, Delaware.

At Texas, the 'Horns already have hauled in 13 pledges for the 2013 signing class. Nine are 4-star rated while two others are 5-stars.

The five stars include WR Ricky Seals-Jones (6'5-215), the number two ranked receiver in the '13 class. The super talent out of Sealy, Texas also earned All-State honors in basketball.

Meanwhile, 5-star QB Tyronne Swoopes (6'5-220) from Whitewater, Texas is being hailed as the next Vince Young-type athlete for the Longhorns.

The Florida Gators have 10 commitments. Three are 4-star players. The top talent is MLB Daniel McMillian (6'2-220) from Jacksonville, Fla. He is considered the best LB in all of Florida. He should add 15-20 pounds to his frame.

Ohio State has five pledges. Four are 4-stars. The top player is RB Jalin Marshall (6'1-190) from Middleton, Ohio. He is a top five rated back in the land.

Alabama has eight commitments currently (5 are 4 stars; one being a 5-star). The top player is MLB Rueben Foster (6'1-240, 4.65) from LaGrange, Ga. He possesses tremendous instincts, awareness and has a huge impact on the game from a defensive standpoint. He recorded 185 tackles with 34 tackles for loss and 18 sacks in 2011. He has 297 total tackles the last two seasons.

Also in the Crimson Tide class for 2013 is Carver High (New Orleans) WR Raheem Falkins (6'3-190) who rejected offers from LSU despite having attended their camp.

The top-rated QB in the 2013 national class is Matt Browne (6'5-202) from Sammamish, Washington. Many liken his style to a young Peyton Manning due to his size and delivery. A 5-star prospect, he had 4,034 yards, 45 touchdowns and only seven interceptions in 2011.

Arizona State, Washington, Alabama, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Wiconsin are his early favorites with Stanford and Clemson closing in. But don't sell the Crimson Tide short due to the fact that new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier spent the last couple of seasons in Washington coaching on the Huskies staff and is very familiar with Browne.

Miami is another school with a jump start on recruiting having already bagged Ray Lewis III, son of ex-Cane and future Hall of Fame Baltimore Ravens MLB Ray Lewis. The 5-foot-9, 185 pounder runs a 4.5 as a top running back who had 2,321 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2011. He also made 92 stops on the defensive side. In one game, Lewis had over 500 total yards in one contest.

Auburn has 5 pledges (two 4-stars, one 5-star). Top player is DT Dee Liner (6'4-268) from Muscle Shoals, Alabama. He is the top-ranked DT in the country for 2013.

Liner has 164 tackles and 24 sacks over the last two seasons.

The Ole Miss Rebels are going through some growing pains under new head coach Hugh Freeze's maiden voyage in spring drills. Freeze and his staff hit the JUCO circuit hard after taking over for Houston Nutt and might have come away with 3-4 potential starters.

One of those appears to be Bo Wallace (East Mississippi CC; 6'5-210 JUCO) who looks to be the odds on favorite to overtake carryovers from last season who include Randall Mackey, Barry Brunetti and Zack Stoudt. Other new arrivals to watch OT Pierce Burton (6'7-290) from San Francisco, Darone Bailey (6'6-305 OG) and CB Deherent Collins (5'11-195) from Copiah Lincoln. Collins was a JUCO All American with six interceptions last season.

Wallace is proficient in the wide-open, spread attack. He is an accurate passer, if not a long range threat, with a quick release. He turned down offers from Baylor, Mississippi State and Texas Tech.

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The Georgia Bulldogs are an intriguing team. Mark Richt's Dawgs finished the 2011 campaign 10-4 overall with a disappointing 33-30 loss to Michigan State in the Outback Bowl (Jan. 2). The Bulldogs lost their first two games of 2011, then went on a 10-game winning streak before dropping their final two, the SEC title game against LSU (42-10) and the bowl game.

Many are expecting a drop-off for UGA this year, but that is an idea that I don't buy.

Optimism reigns supreme with the return of junior QB Aaron Murray (6'1-211) who had 3,149 yards through the air with 35 scores and 14 interceptions. He displayed flashes of brilliance as an efficient passer with 78.3 percent accuracy against New Mexico State, 77.8 percent versus Auburn, 69.2 percent against Coastal Carolina and 65.5 against both Georgia Tech and South Carolina.

If he chooses to depart Athens after the 2011 season, assuming he continues to follow the natural maturation process, he could well be a top 5 or top 10 pick in next year's NFL draft.

The top four rushers return including leading ball carrier sophomore Isaiah Crowell who had 850 yards and five scores despite missing two full games and playing sparingly (just five total carries) in two others. A 5-star 2012 signee, premier recruit Keith Marshall (5'11-190, 4.43), joins the fray.

Five of the top six targets return, a group that represents 155 catches, 2,212 yards and 22 touchdowns. Standout TE Orson Charles will tough to replace.

The Bulldogs defense has been outstanding throughout spring drills.

All everything LB Jarvis Jones (6'3-241) returns along with his SEC-leading 13.5 sacks and a league best 195 tackles for loss. John Jenkins (6'4-340 NT), a 2011 JUCO signee, does his best impersonation of former Alabama NT Terrence "Mount" Cody, also a former JUCO All-American.

The defensive backfield will have to be restored but does boast senior Baccari Rambo with seven interceptions in 2011.

The offensive line loses a key player. Left tackle Cordy Glenn is projected as a very high first round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Seven of the top 10 O-linemen return. The 2012 recruiting class produced perhaps the top-rated offensive lineman in the country in 5-star OT John Theus. Kenarious Gates (6'5-328 Jr.) looks to be a shoe-in at left tackle.

Georgia finished 2011 after establishing a high standard of play...

  • 3rd in the SEC in total offense
  • 3rd in total defense
  • 3rd in rushing defense
  • 3rd in pass offense
  • 3rd in pass defense (team had 17 interceptions)
  • Recorded 34 sacks
  • Held opposition to 28.8 % on 3rd down conversion
  • Led the SEC in time of possession with 33:48 minutes
  • Also 2nd in SEC with turnover margin of +7

This year's recruiting class for UGA includes Theus, Marshall and Josh Harvey-Clemons, the nation's second best LB in the class.

The 2013 recruiting unit is in full swing with seven current commitments; four are 4-star players. The 5-star is the fourth rated back in the 2013 class, Derrick Henry (6'3-241, 4.55). Many are drawing comparisons athletically to a young Charles Grant, who arrived on the Georgia campus as a supersized, multi-talented RB before switching exclusively to defensive end. During his 3 seasons in Yulee, Florida, Henry has run for 7,873 yards and 99 touchdowns. He resembles NFL back Brandon Jacobs.

 
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