Friday February 8th, 2008

Sick of hearing about the class of 2008 after a few days of paralysis by analysis? Good. Now it's time to move on to the class of 2009.

I know what you're thinking. But these guys just signed. Won't coaches take a break before they begin recruiting for next year?

Not the ones who want to keep their jobs. As usual, most of them already have fallen behind USC's Pete Carroll.

Though the Trojans were only allowed to sign 17 players on Wednesday because classes in previous years were so big, Carroll and his staff have already begun loading up the class of 2009. They have commitments from six top prospects, including No. 1 prospect Matt Barkley, a quarterback from the same high school (Mater Dei in Santa Ana, Calif.) that produced Matt Leinart and Colt Brennan. Meanwhile, Georgia already has five commitments for 2009, though the aspiring Bulldogs don't have the same lofty rankings as the USC recruits.

All this may seem a little premature, but coaches and recruits are going to have to get used to it. Even Carroll, who is as responsible as anyone for tilting the recruiting cycle forward, wishes the tilt-a-whirl would slow.

"Times are changing a little bit and, so, we're having to adjust," Carroll told reporters Wednesday. "We have had to adjust and speed things up, and I don't like that. I'd rather take all the time possible. I wish we could wait until we see kids play their senior years, but we no longer are able to do that."

So get to know these guys quickly, because they may have committed by the summer, if they haven't already.

Barkley, the Gatorade national Player of the Year as a junior, is the headliner, but several other signal-callers will draw plenty of attention. One is Chesapeake (Va.) Western Branch's Kevin Newsome, a 6-3, 215-pound hurdles champ who has drawn comparisons to Florida's Tim Tebow. Newsome already has offers from Virginia Tech, Penn State and several others. Meanwhile, Austin (Texas) Lake Travis quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who threw for 52 touchdowns as a junior, committed to Texas on Thursday.

Wichita (Kan.) East tailback Bryce Brown is the younger brother of Arthur Brown, who signed with Miami on Wednesday. Will the younger Brown also head to Coral Gables? We'll have to wait to find out, because Bryce Brown is sifting through dozens of scholarship offers. Cierre Wood from Oxnard (Calif.) Santa Clara rushed for more than 2,600 yards and 42 touchdowns as a junior and USC and Notre Dame are aggressively pursuing him.

Rueben Randle, a 6-3, 195-pounder, helped Bastrop (La.) High to a state title last season. Defending national champ LSU already has offered. Memphis (Tenn.) Harding Academy receiver Marlon Brown is a 6-5, 205-pounder who can catch and run. He also hopes to play basketball in college.

Marcus Hall, a 6-5, 290-pounder from Cleveland, plays at Glenville Academic, the same school that produced Ted Ginn Jr. and Troy Smith. And yes, Ohio State has offered. Meanwhile, massive Leon Hill (6-6, 341 pounds) from Chicago Leo already has told coach Ron Zook that he intends to play at Illinois.

Defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel might be the best player on a loaded team at Greenville (Fla.) Madison. McDaniel didn't wait long to pick a college, either. He committed to Florida State on Thursday. Also, expect every school in the top 25 to make a pitch for Lufkin, Texas, defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland, a quick 6-3, 280-pounder.

College assistants will fight for the chance to visit Honolulu linebacker Manti Te'o, if for nothing else than the free trip to Hawaii. Once there, they'll find a big hitter with a nose for the ball. Meanwhile, expect the southern powers to duke it out for Columbus (Ga.) Carver linebacker Jarvis Jones, who piled up 144 tackles as a junior.

Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick comes from the same Alabama high school (Gadsden City) that produced 2008 Crimson Tide signee Jerrell Harris. Alabama and Auburn have offered, meaning any out-of-state school that wants to get Kirkpatrick will have to work. Justin Turner from Massillon (Ohio), has safety size (6-2, 190) and cornerback speed. He's also an excellent kick returner.

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