While listening to the radio this afternoon, I heard a stat so shocking I had to go to the Web to see if it was true. Indeed, it was. Of the 26 class of 2010 recruits granted five-star status by Rivals.com, only one signed Wednesday with a Big Ten school.
Turns out it was true. Detroit defensive end William Gholston was the only one; he signed with Michigan State. The number could double if Cleveland safety Latwan Anderson picks Ohio State, but the fact that he was committed to a Big East school (West Virginia) and delayed his decision to check out a Pac-10 school (USC) doesn't inspire hope.
So where did the other five-star recruits go, you ask? Here's a breakdown by conference.
1. SEC (10): DE Ronald Powell (Florida), DT Sharrif Floyd (Florida), DT Dominique Easley (Florida), WR Da'Rick Rogers (Tennessee), RB Marcus Lattimore (South Carolina), RB Michael Dyer (Auburn), ATH Spencer Ware (LSU), OT Shon Coleman (Auburn), S DeMarcus Milliner (Alabama), S Matt Elam (Florida).
2. Pac-10 (9): OT Seantrel Henderson (USC), WR Kyle Prater (USC), S Keenan Allen (Cal), ATH Robert Woods (USC), DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (UCLA), RB Dillon Baxter (USC), DE Chris Martin (Cal), WR Markeith Ambles (USC), RB Lache Seastrunk (Oregon).
3. ACC (3): OT Robert Crisp (NC State), CB Lamarcus Joyner (Florida State), LB Christian Jones (Florida State).
4. Big 12 (2): DE Jackson Jeffcoat (Texas), LB Jordan Hicks (Texas).
5. Big Ten (1): DE William Gholston (Michigan State).
Undecided: S Latwan Anderson (Ohio State, USC, West Virginia).
Latwan Anderson, a star safety at Cleveland's Glenville High, plans to hold off on signing for two weeks so he can visit USC before deciding between the Trojans, Ohio State and West Virginia. Anderson, who had previously committed to West Virginia, applied the brakes on Wednesday.
"It's not that I changed my mind," Anderson told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. "I just want to make sure I'm making the right decision."
So the Trojans and Mountaineers have a chance to bolster their class, while the Buckeyes will have the chance to avoid a complete shutout by the top prospects in Ohio.
Ohio State coaches have won enough games to earn the benefit of the doubt, so maybe they believe 2010 wasn't a particularly great year in Ohio. Still, that doesn't explain how they missed on West Chester linebacker Jordan Hicks (Texas) and Cincinnati athlete Spencer Ware (LSU), who both held Ohio State offers. If Anderson leaves the state, it would mark the first time since Rivals.com began keeping such records in 2002 that none of the top four Ohio prospects signed with Ohio State.
USC made the biggest splash at the end -- landing a 330-pound cannonball named Seantrel Henderson, to be exact -- but the battle for LA proved to be the most interesting subplot on National Signing Day. Lane Kiffin closed strong at USC, but his crosstown rival, UCLA's Rick Neuheisel, more than held his own.
Neuheisel got his own out-of-state blue-chipper in Portland, Ore., defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa, and the Bruins won two head-to-head matchups with the Trojans. They signed Fontana, Calif., linebacker Josh Shirley and La Canada, Calif., safety Deitrich Riley, both of whom were USC targets. The Trojans struck back, though, signing Ventura, Calif., offensive lineman Giovanni Di Poalo, who was headed either to Troy or Westwood.
After Henderson signed with the Trojans, Rivals.com ranked USC's class No. 2 in the nation and UCLA's class No. 8. Though the Trojans won that round, the Bruins made up a ton of ground. Plus, thanks to the Twitter foibles of USC signee Markeith Ambles, some enterprising UCLA student is going to make a fortune selling "Fight On, Trogans" T-shirts.
We can joke about USC coach Lane Kiffin all we want. We can criticize his won-loss record or his knowledge of the NCAA rulebook. The one thing we can't question is his ability to convince top-shelf recruits to come play for him.
Wednesday, Kiffin landed the biggest -- literally and figuratively -- undecided player in America. Offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, a 6-foot-8, 330-pounder from St. Paul, Minn., is headed to Troy. Rivals.com considers Henderson the best offensive lineman in the class of 2010 and the second-best overall player in the nation.
Henderson is a tremendous athlete. The first time I saw him compete in anything was at the 2008 Peach Jam, an elite travel basketball tournament. He annihilated Daniel Orton, a power forward who now plays in the rotation at Kentucky. On the football field, Henderson is much more nimble than a man his size should be, and time spent in a college weight room should turn him into an absolute powerhouse.
Will he start right away? With offensive linemen, you never know. In 2006, Andre Smith started at left tackle the moment he set foot on campus at Alabama. In 2009, top-ranked tackle D.J. Fluker -- who also signed with Alabama -- took a redshirt. It's tough to predict because of the physical maturity required to start on the offensive line on a top 25 team. But if Henderson is physically ready, we know Kiffin will give him a chance to earn playing time. Kiffin, who learned much of his head coaching philosophy from Pete Carroll, will continue Carroll's tradition of forcing players to compete for every job, every week. So if Henderson has the chops, he'll play right away.
According to the scuttlebutt on Twitter, the reason Auburn fans were so nervous over Thibodaux, La. Athlete Trovon Reed had nothing to do with whether Reed would sign with LSU. Apparently, Reed had to drive to Mississippi to find a fax machine to send his documents to The Loveliest Village on the Plains.
At least that was the rumor. It turns out a writer for a Scout.com site posted it as his Facebook status update, and the quip took on a life of its own. Still, it begs a question: Why, in 2010, are such important documents being trusted to fax machines? We've come a long way since the heyday of the fax machine, when Vanilla Ice rolled down A1A and Wayne and Garth weren't worthy. We live in an age in which images and documents can be shuttled across the globe in less than a second.
We can electronically sign our tax returns. If the Internet is good enough for the IRS, shouldn't it be good enough for the NCAA?
Let's get Steve Jobs on this. Next year, everybody signs on an iPad.
You haven't read a single word about Texas here on the blog today. That's because it's been a rather uneventful National Signing Day in Austin, which is exactly how Longhorns coach Mack Brown likes it.
Brown puts his hay in the barn so early every year that the first Wednesday in February really is a mere formality. That was the case today. Texas entered Wednesday with 25 committed players. By noon local time, all 25 had signed. That's right. All 25. No drama. No sweating.
Brown only takes commitments from players who want desperately to play for Texas. If a player wavers, Brown knows there are dozens of blue-chippers who would gladly take their wishy-washy counterpart's scholarship.
The Longhorns are excited about the receivers in this class. They've got Darius White from Fort Worth, Texas, John Harris from Garland, Texas, Darius Terrell from DeSoto, Texas and DeMarco Cobbs from Tulsa, Okla. The latest of the group to commit was White, who announced for Texas on Jan. 2. Harris and Terrell, meanwhile, have been committed since this week last year.
Brown and his staff waited until late January for Plano, Texas, defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, but Jeffcoat is the nation's top-ranked end. In fact, you have to be that good to make Brown wait that long.
So don't expect to read much more about Texas this week. An utterly drama-free Signing Day gets little ink. That's fine with Brown. He's more worried right now about how many Class of 2011 commits he's going to get at the Longhorns' junior day later this month.
As the news trickled in about the recruiting class Lane Kiffin was putting together across town, the folks in Westwood had to be getting a little nervous. They're probably feeling a lot better now after some great news from Oregon.
Owamagbe Odighizuwa, a 6-foot-3, 234-pound defensive end from David Douglas High in Portland, announced that he would sign with UCLA after an oratory that rivaled Sally Fields' Oscar acceptance speech.
Odighizuwa's signature is great news for the Bruins, especially considering the quality of some of the other classes being assembled in the Pac-10. Odighizuwa is lighting-quick off the edge, and he appears capable of packing quite a few more pounds on his frame. With him on the field, quarterbacks should worry.
Now that we know Kiffin & Co. will make life just as miserable on the recruiting trail for Bruins coach Rick Neuheisel as Pete Carroll did, it's good to know Neuheisel and UCLA plan to fight back.
UCLA's gain is Nebraska's loss. Cornhuskers fans had hoped Odighizuwa would be as good as the last defensive lineman Nebraska signed from Portland. That lineman's name was Ndamukong Suh.
Now that New Orleans quarterback Munchie Legaux has signed with Cincinnati, we know where all the members of the 2010 All-Name Team are headed.
Honolulu safety Wave Ryder will attend Navy.
Gulfport, Miss., athlete Furious Bradley will attend Southern Miss.
Temple, Texas, tailback Lache Seastrunk will attend Oregon.
Calhoun, Ga., quarterback Nash Nance will attend Tennessee. Nance's teammate, Da'Rick Rogers, also will attend Tennessee.
Loganville, Ga., tailback Storm Johnson will be a Miami Hurricane. Tulsa would have been the only other acceptable school for a player named Storm to attend. OK, maybe Iowa State.
Charlotte, N.C. linebacker Prince Shembo will attend Notre Dame.
Toquavius Gilchrist, a linebacker from Butler County Community College in El Dorado, Kan., will attend South Carolina.
Cary, N.C., defensive end Fre'shad Hunter will attend NC State.
Littleton, Colo., back Mister Jones will attend Texas A&M.
Miami offensive lineman Jose Jose -- the player so big they named him twice -- will attend Central Florida.
Of course, this year's names were only a warm-up for the greatest recruiting name of all time. In 364 days, Miami defensive end God's Power Offor will sign with some lucky program.
For all of you who keep saying that Boise State needs to beat the big boys, here's a win for the Broncos. Wednesday, they beat Notre Dame for a player.
Jeremy Ioane, a safety from Punahou High in Honolulu, signed with Boise State on Wednesday. It appeared Ioane, a former high school teammate of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, was South Bend-bound after visiting the Fighting Irish this past weekend.
Boise State won't get anywhere near the top of the recruiting team rankings, but here's betting the newest Broncos win a whole bunch of games during their careers.
Demar Dorsey, the safety who once said he was 66 percent committed to Florida, will 100 percent sign with Michigan, SI.com contributor Kristian Dyer reports.
Dorsey, from Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., fell out of Florida's class a few weeks ago, touching off a recruiting contest among Michigan, Florida State, Tennessee and USC. If the practices for the Under Armour All-America Game in December are any indication, the Wolverines have nabbed an excellent player who will certainly keep his teammates entertained.
Dorsey was always around the ball during the all-star workouts, and if you couldn't see him, you could always hear him. It's always a good sign that a defensive back is a fantastic trash-talker when the receiver he covers finishes the play doubled over in laughter. That happened a few times during the Under Armour workouts.
Lane Kiffin's first assignment after he finishes signing this class is to teach receiver signee Markeith Ambles how to spell Trojans.
Tuesday, Ambles tweeted this: "@mARKEITHAMBLES: who will i be tomorrow a vol, trogan, or tar heel!!!!!!"
I chalked that one up to tiny mobile phone keys or touchscreen issues. After all, the G and the J are separated only by the H on a standard QWERTY keyboard. But when Ambles tweeted Wednesday about his decision, I began having doubts. At 12:13 p.m. Wednesday, he tweeted this: "@mARKEITHAMBLES: Go Trogans!!!!!!"
Wow, Kiffin works fast. At 12:24 p.m., Ambles tweeted this: @Markeithambles: "Trojans"
Keenan Allen, Rivals.com's top-ranked safety, has dropped Alabama and signed with Cal. That means a quadruple-dose of good news for the Golden Bears.
Allen, from Greensboro, N.C., is the nation's No. 5 overall prospect according to Rivals. And according to the Greensboro News and Record, Allen will bring some friends with him to Berkeley, including his half-brother, Zach Maynard. Maynard started at quarterback for Buffalo in 2009 but announced he would transfer after Bulls coach Turner Gill left for Kansas. One of Allen's high school teammates, linebacker Chris McCain, also signed with Cal. Another friend, defensive end Gabe King, also signed.
King, ranked No. 30 overall by Rivals, lost an eligibility appeal that would have allowed him to play alongside Allen this past season. North Carolina's high school athletic association banned King from playing in the state after it accused him of supplying a false address for school eligibility purposes. Unable to play in North Carolina, King moved to Eugene, Ore. Though some assumed King would sign with Oregon, plenty of schools kept recruiting him.
Allen originally committed to Alabama, but when he learned the Crimson Tide didn't have room for Maynard, he changed his mind. Now, northern California will have a distinctive North Carolina flavor.
If Cal coach Jeff Tedford is smart, he'll make sure the Golden Bears' training table adds vinegar-based barbecue sauce.
SI.com contributor Kristian Dyer passes along the following update on Honolulu linebacker V.J. Fehoko:
Fehoko, the top recruit in Hawaii, will sign with Utah in a Signing Day event this afternoon. Fehoko was the state's lone representative in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. His brother, Sam Fehoko, is a linebacker for Texas Tech.
"Utah is a team that could win the National Championship while I am there," Fehoko said. "I believe that I am destined for greatness and the Utes coaching staff will help me pave that pathway."
Part of the tipping point for Fehoko was the large number of Polynesian students enrolled at Utah, in addition to the strength of the communications program on the academic side. Fehoko also held offers from BYU, California, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
His father is Vili the Warrior, the famed sideline presence at Hawaii football games. V.J. said that there was hope he'd stay home and play at Hawaii.
"Both dad and mom are doubly heartbroken," V.J. Fehoko said. "They have waited for one of their three sons stay home and I am getting love and support from my family including my brother Sam at Texas Tech.
"Dad is now calling out the Utes to schedule a game in his backyard."
It's no surprise that Oviedo, Fla., linebacker Christian Jones signed with Florida State. His father, Willie Jones Sr., and his brother, Willie Jones Jr., each played for the Seminoles. Heck, during an interview in December, Jones referred to the Seminoles as "we."
Surprise or not, Jones is an impressive addition to an already impressive class in Tallahassee. He joins Port St. Lucie, Fla., linebacker Jeff Luc and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., cornerback LaMarcus Joyner in a class that could upgrade the Seminoles' defense in a hurry.
Florida State already has a good offense. Christian Ponder is one of the best quarterbacks in the country, and guard Rodney Hudson leads an experienced line. But the Seminoles' defense was abysmal last season.
Fortunately, it doesn't take as long to upgrade a defense as it does an offense. Joyner and sophomore Greg Reid might be the opening day starters at corner, and Luc and Jones are interesting pieces. Jones, a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder, runs well enough to play linebacker but could eventually grow into a very fast defensive end. Don't be surprised if first-year defensive coordinator Mark Stoops develops some sort of hybrid position down the road for Jones.
Now for the good news at Tennessee. James Stone, an offensive lineman from Nashville, Tenn., has chosen the Vols over Alabama and Auburn.
This is a big get for new Tennessee coach Derek Dooley. He successfully recruited an in-state star despite a challenge from the defending national champ. Any questions about Dooley's ability to recruit should be laid to rest now. He has gone head-to-head with Nick Saban -- one of the best in the business -- and successfully defended his state's borders.
For Tennessee fans still unsure about Dooley, this should inspire a lot of confidence.
Rest easy, Auburn fans. Shon Coleman is headed to the Loveliest Village on the Plains.
Coleman, a five-star offensive tackle from Olive Branch, Miss., announced last April that he would sign with Auburn, but late visits to Alabama and Miami cast doubt as to whether the Tigers would land the 6-foot-7, 285-pounder.
As Signing Day drew near, Auburn received several challenges for its top commitments, but so far, coach Gene Chizik's excellent class remains intact. The Tigers already have a letter-of-intent in hand from Little Rock, Ark., tailback Michael Dyer, Springville High receiver Jeremy Richardson, St. Mathews, S.C., offensive lineman Eric Mack and Warner Robins, Ga., defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker.
That leaves Thibodaux, La., athlete Trovon Reed, an Auburn commit who remained a target for LSU on Signing Day Eve.
Meanwhile, the Tigers are the favorite to land Hialeah, Fla., defensive end Corey Lemonier. Lemonier's announcement is scheduled for the afternoon.
SI.com contributor Kristian Dyer reports that Macon, Miss., receiver Vincent Sanders will sign with Ole Miss. Sanders had offers from Alabama, Florida State, Tennessee and West Virginia. The Seminoles got Sanders' final visit, but in the end, he decided to remain closer to home.
The Rebels also signed Miami linebacker Ralph Williams, who had been leaning toward Tennessee until Lane Kiffin took the USC job.
The last time Nebraska signed a quarterback from Manatee High in Bradenton, Fla., the quarterback's name was Tommie Frazier. Frazier wound up leading the Cornhuskers to a pair of national titles. In 1995, he was the best player on what might be the most dominant team in the history of college football.
Now, Nebraska coaches are hoping another Manatee graduate can produce similar results. Wednesday, Manatee quarterback Brion Carnes signed with the Huskers.
Carnes originally planned to go to South Florida, but he began examining his options after the firing of Jim Leavitt on Jan. 8. New USF coach Skip Holtz wanted to sign Carnes, but he also wanted Carnes to stop visiting other schools. When Carnes couldn't make that promise, Holtz told him the Bulls -- who have only starter B.J. Daniels on scholarship and must sign a quarterback in this class -- would have to consider other quarterback recruits.
That enraged Manatee coach Joe Kinnan, who said he didn't want USF recruiting his players anymore. Holtz and company are still trying to smooth out the relationship.
Carnes, meanwhile, visited Nebraska and Western Kentucky. He seemed to be leaning toward signing with the Hilltoppers, whose new coach, Willie Taggart, is a Manatee grad. Instead, Carnes decided to attempt to follow in Frazier's footsteps.
With Carnes still undecided, USF took a commitment last week from LaGrange, Ga., quarterback Jamius Gunsby. Gunsby already has faxed his letter-of-intent to the Bulls.
Tennessee has gotten its first bad news of the day. J.C. Copeland, a defensive lineman from LaGrange, Ga., who committed to the Volunteers in May, has signed with LSU.
It's not too big of a surprise that Copeland flipped; LSU, Florida State and South Carolina all courted him in January. LSU became interested in Copeland while recruiting his teammate, fullback Brandon Worle. Worle had planned to sign with LSU since last March. LSU got Copeland to visit Baton Rouge this past weekend, and apparently coach Les Miles, defensive coordinator John Chavis and company made a good impression.
LSU also signed Ocala, Fla., receiver Kadron Boone. Boone originally committed to Texas Tech, but he reopened his recruitment after the Red Raiders fired coach Mike Leach. On the day Leach was fired, Boone mentioned that he had a good relationship with LSU receivers coach Billy Gonzales, who had just joined the Tigers after five seasons at Florida. It appears that relationship has paid off.
It's been a good morning so far for former Pete Carroll assistants who are now head coaches.
Lane Kiffin is mopping up at USC, and Washington coach Steve Sarkisian can celebrate some good news with his morning Starbucks. SI.com contributor Kristian Dyer reports that Harbor City, Calif., safety Sean Parker will sign with the Huskies. Parker also considered Michigan and Cal.
For the second consecutive day, Michigan coaches found themselves on the wrong end of a decision from a defensive back. Tuesday, Jacksonville, Fla., DB Rashad Knight chose Rutgers over the Wolverines.
Score another Signing Day win for USC coach Lane Kiffin.
McDonough, Ga., receiver Markeith Ambles has chosen USC over Tennessee and North Carolina. Ambles originally committed to Tennessee this past summer, but he decided to re-examine his options after Kiffin left Knoxville for Los Angeles.
Ambles, who visited new Tennessee coach Derek Dooley this past weekend, didn't make the decision until late Tuesday or early Wednesday . At about midnight Wednesday during a live broadcast on UStream from his home, Ambles said he had not revealed his decision to anyone. "My parents don't even know where I'm going to school," Ambles said. "Not yet."
Everyone knows now.
Meanwhile, Kiffin continues his run of 11th-hour recruiting success. Last year at Tennessee, he flipped Florida commitments Marsalis Teague and Nu'Keese Richardson on Signing Day. The next day, he grabbed Janzen Jackson from LSU's class. This year, Kiffin won't need to do as much flipping. Most of USC's remaining targets were undecided. That includes the biggest -- literally -- prize of this year's class: 330-pound St. Paul, Minn., offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson.
Mack Brown has picked a school.
Calm down, Texas fans. Your coach isn't going anywhere. This Mack Brown is a speedy back from Lithonia, Ga., and he has signed a letter of intent with Florida. Tennessee and Florida State made late pushes for Brown, but in the end, he chose the school he committed to in July.
Brown was one of a few Florida recruits still considered to be somewhat on the fence. With him in the boat, they're expecting a fairly drama-free day in Gainesville. So far, the Gators have letters-of-intent from Brown, Staten Island, N.Y., defensive end Dominique Easley, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., cornerback Cody Riggs, Bradenton, Fla., safety Jon Dowling, and Pahokee, Fla. receiver Chris Dunkley. Eleven members of the class already have enrolled.
Florida is still waiting on decisions from New Berlin, N.Y., athlete Travon Van and Oviedo, Fla., linebacker Christian Jones and Tampa, Fla., offensive lineman Chaz Green. Van has letters of intent from Florida, USC, Miami and Tennessee. Green has letters of intent from Florida, USC and Ohio State.
A few schools will take you deeper than you probably ever wanted to go into the machinations of National Signing Day.
At South Florida, the Bulls are hosting an all-day extravaganza that will incorporate Twitter, a live chat and a UStream broadcast.
Meanwhile, at Miami (Ohio), the Redhawks will go live on the Web to discuss each of their signees.
Over at Heritage Hall, former USC walk-on Ben Malcolmson will provide fantastic Signing Day coverage on the Trojans' blog, USCRipsIt. That's probably the one to watch as the day goes on, because USC is in on more top undecided players than any school in the country.
SI.com contributor Krisitan Dyer is reporting that Ivan McCartney, a U.S. Army All-American, will commit to West Virginia this morning. McCartney, a consensus top-five wide receiver, is ranked No. 37 in the nation by Rivals.com.
One of the top remaining uncommitted players in Florida, McCartney will join fellow Miramar product Geno Smith in Morgantown. A source indicated that McCartney has developed a close relationship with West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart and the Mountaineers coaching staff.
In addition to his bond with Smith, McCartney also developed a close relationship with future West Virginia quarterback Barry Brunetti when the two played for the East team in the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. McCartney also held offers from Boston College, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Oregon and Pittsburgh.
ESPN.com published a heartwarming story last week about how one fan formed a special bond with Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco through correspondence on Twitter. Now, for an example of the dark side of fan-athlete Twitter relations.
On Tuesday, reports began to trickle out of Georgia that Calhoun, Ga., receiver Da'rick Rogers had made the switch from Georgia to Tennessee. Not long after, someone using the handle atmdawg hurled a stream of insulting tweets at Rogers on Twitter. The person apparently opened the Twitter account just to torment Rogers, because eight of his nine tweets were sent to Rogers.
Here's a sampling:
"You're nothing! you (sic) need to put some meat on that 14 yr. old body if you want to play in the SEC!"
"lol... when you were a dawg???? you were never a dawg.. maybe a @#$%& but not a dawg! good luck at tennersee (sic)"
"lol i love to hear you respond b/c your ignorance amazes me!! People told me how stupid you were i just had to see it!"
Hopefully, the account was created by a friend of Rogers for the purposes of a Web 2.0 practical joke. I fear that isn't the case, though. Unfortunately, there's probably a fan out there who either is really upset that Rogers might sign with Tennessee, or he's a fan of a Georgia rival trying to make Georgia fans look bad.
Either way, it's pathetic.
National Signing Day knows no time zones. Witness this tweet from Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh.
"Signing Day at Stanford has begun!" Harbaugh tweeted. "First fax hit our office at 4:00am Pacific. I see you, 404!"
Harbaugh didn't name the player, but judging by the area code, the letter of intent came from either College Park, Ga., defensive end Henry Anderson or Roswell, Ga., offensive lineman David Yankey.
Stanford wasn't the only Pac-10 team expectintg faxes from the eastern time zone. USC should get a fax this morning from Frostproof, Fla., cornerback Nickell Robey. Robey originally committed to Georgia, but he dropped the Bulldogs after the firing of defensive coordinator Willie Martinez. Robey had been considering a flip to Tennessee when Lane Kiffin coached the Volunteers. In the end, Kiffin landed Robey at USC.
1. Where will Seantrel Henderson sign? Henderson, a 6-foot-8, 330-pound offensive tackle from Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, Minn., is the nation's top-ranked offensive lineman and the highest ranked uncommitted player. Unlike the top-ranked players in the past two classes (Terrelle Pryor and Bryce Brown), Henderson doesn't plan to drag his recruitment past Signing Day. He has played things close to the vest, and today he'll sign with Florida, Miami, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Ohio State or USC. The Buckeyes are the favorites.
2. How will Lane Kiffin close? Last year, Kiffin's first and only at Tennessee, he finished with a flourish. He swiped receivers Marsalis Teague and Nu'Keese Richardson from Florida's class and safety Janzen Jackson from LSU's. Kiffin, now at USC, did a great job keeping the Trojans' class together in the wake of PeteCarroll's departure, and he and his staff are hoping for a huge finish. Still on the board are Henderson, McDonough, Ga., receiver Markeith Ambles, Palmdale, Calif., tight end Christian Thomas, Tampa offensive lineman Chaz Green, Frostproof, Fla., cornerback Nickell Robey and Ventura, Calif., offensive tackle Giovanni Di Poalo. All are ranked in the Rivals 250.
3. What about Kiffin's old school? Derek Dooley, Kiffin's replacement at Tennessee, also hopes to close strong. After getting a commitment last week from Calhoun, Ga., quarterback Nash Nance, it appears Nance's teammate, receiver Da'Rick Rogers, will drop Georgia to come to Knoxville. Tennessee also remains in the hunt for Ambles, who originally committed to the Volunteers. Meanwhile, the first Wednesday in February will have a Third Saturday in October feel. Tennessee will duel Alabama for the signature of Nashville offensive lineman James Stone.
4. Will Nebraska land another defensive lineman from Portland? The last time the Cornhuskers signed a defensive lineman from the hometown of Voodoo Doughnut, it was Ndamukong Suh. Now Nebraska is in the hunt for Owamagbe Odighizuwa, a 6-foot-3, 234-pound defensive end who some people think might wind up as good coming off the edge as Suh was coming up the middle.
5. Who will win the utterly meaningless national recruiting title? Pundits such as myself will rank the classes, and fans will take to their message boards to rank the classes, but those rankings are complete conjecture. There is no way to truly rank a recruiting class until the players have been in school for at least three years. Need examples? According to Rivals.com, Florida State had the No. 2 class in 2005 and the No. 3 class in 2006. Judging by the rankings, the Seminoles should have dominated the ACC the past few seasons. They didn't. By contrast, the 2007 class that contained most of the stars from Georgia Tech's 2009 ACC title team clocked in at No. 18. The 2007 Boise State class that provided many of the stars of the team that went 14-0 ranked No. 68. Of course, sometimes the rankings are right on the money. In 2003, Rivals ranked LSU, Florida and USC in the top three spots. Although USC probably deserved to be first, players from those classes all played major roles on national title teams.
When Pensacola, Fla., tailback Trent Richardson donned a houndstooth hat -- paying homage to Bear Bryant and Andre Smith a year ago to announce he would attend Alabama, he officially ended the recruiting announcement hat dance. Never again should a recruit play a game of three-hat monte. No matter how dramatic the decision, it will never look cooler than Richardson's headgear pledge.
Besides, the hat game was played out anyway. It's classless for players to disrespect schools they didn't choose by donning a school's hat before ripping it off and throwing it to the ground. It's time the nation's blue-chippers got a little more creative. So here are some tips in case players making announcements today want to make any last-minute alterations to their signing announcements.
If Henderson picks Ohio State, he should don a red sweatervest. Hopefully, someone makes a 5XL sweatervest.
Oviedo, Fla., linebacker Christian Jones shouldn't use a garnet-and-gold lid to announce his intention to play at Florida State. He should run to the 50-yard line at Lake Howell High and plant a flaming spear.
When any of the 20 Lone Star State blue-chippers who will commit to Texas for the class of 2011 in the next few weeks make their announcements, they should have their high school's entire cheerleading squad file into the gym wearing chaps.
If Greensboro, N.C., safety Keenan Allen picks Clemson on Wednesday, he should rub a rock before he signs his national letter of intent. If he picks Cal, he should make his announcement while sitting in a tree.
Hopefully, the players will heed this advice. If they want to stage an announcement to remember, they'll have to think outside the hatbox.