March 26, 2012

After another week of 2013 recruiting happenings, Rivals recaps the top storylines from each BCS conference.

Heading into the month with questions at quarterback, Virginia picked up a commitment from Olney (Md.) Good Counsel signal-caller Brendan Marshall, the team's heir apparent under center. The Cavaliers would've loved to land one of the "Big Three" in-state passers -- Ashburn (Va.) Stonebridge's Ryan Burns, Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy's Christian Hackenberg or Virginia Beach (Va.) Salem's Bucky Hodges -- but Marshall should serve as a more-than-functional leader in years to come. Salisbury (Conn.) offensive tackle Sadiq Olanrewaju, who committed on March 20, fills another big need, and though he's raw, has the size (6-6, 280-pounds) and athleticism to make an instant impact in Charlottesville.

Across the state, Virginia Tech nabbed Roanoke (Va.) Patrick Henry athlete David Prince, a versatile player who could do a number of things upon his arrival to Blacksburg. Frank Beamer and staff now have four verbals in the 2013 class and are targeting several other top recruits: Hodges, Hampton (Va.) athlete Deon Newsome, Statesville (N.C.) quarterback Carlis Parker and Bealeton (Va.) Liberty defensive end Wyatt Teller.

Louisville is holding firm with three commitments -- Lexington (Ky.) Catholic quarterback Kyle Bolin, Fleming Island (Fla.) safety Donel Elam and Louisville (Ky.) Trinity cornerback Ryan White -- but received major news when Miami (Fla.) Northwestern four-star cornerback Artie Burns decommitted from Alabama. Burns now lists Louisville, Florida State, Miami, USC and LSU as his updated top five, and could conceivably have a Cardinals' lean. Given the program's recent recruiting success at Northwestern High (see: Teddy Bridgewater) and coach Charlie Strong's lofty reputation in the Dade and Broward County area, Louisville should remain a major player for Burns until the very end.

In other news, Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst finally reeled in his first commitment in Pittsburgh (Pa.) Seton La Salle tight end Scott Orndoff. The three-star talent originally gave his verbal to Wisconsin, but reneged on his decision after Chryst left the Badgers in December. The Panthers are now positioned to land several other local prospects: Four-star Belle Vernon (Pa.) offensive lineman Dorian Johnson and three-star Monessen (Pa.) quarterback Chavas Rawlins have made frequent visits to campus and seem to be impressed with what the new staff has to offer.

Four Big Ten teams remain without a commitment in the 2013 class, while four other conference programs boast at least five, led by Michigan, which already boasts 16. Indiana, Iowa, Northwestern and Purdue have yet to get on the board, though with more than 10 months remaining before Signing Day, it's still too early for fan bases to panic.

Northwestern and Purdue are notorious late starters in the recruiting game, but Iowa's appearance is a noteworthy surprise. The Chicagoland area is particularly talented in 2013, and the Hawkeyes have historically made an impact in the region under assistant coach Lester Erb. Expect Iowa to pursue Lemont (Ill.) offensive tackle Ethan Pocic, Crete (Ill.) Monee wideout Laquon Treadwell and Joliet (Ill.) Catholic running back Ty Isaac before all is said and done.

Oklahoma State's lone 2013 pledge is a good one -- four-star Tyler (Texas) John Tyler wide receiver Fred Ross -- but the Cowboys could be getting a bit restless after watching some of their competitors stockpile a bevy of top recruits. Oklahoma State remains in relatively good standing with Prosper (Texas) wideout Torii Hunter Jr. and Missouri City (Texas) Elkins receiver J'Mon Moore, and recently offered Lee's Summit (Mo.) defensive end Jamone Boyd. Still, coach Mike Gundy and Co. seem to have plenty to accomplish before the season, and eventually National Signing Day, rolls around.

Texas, conversely, has landed seemingly every prospect it's wanted, with 10 four- or five-star prospects already in its 2013 class. But the Longhorns could have a battle on their hands for DeSoto (Texas) all-purpose back Dontre Wilson. The Rivals250 prospect recently visited Oregon and came away with an offer, and even though Texas has historically fared well with DeSoto players, will be hard-pressed to keep Wilson away from Chip Kelly's up-tempo attack.

Four-star linebacker Michael Hutchings has made it clear that USC remains one of his top options after assistant coach Joe Barry's departure, quelling rumors that were stating otherwise. The Concord (Calif.) De La Salle product said that he's developed a working relationship with new linebackers coach Scottie Hazelton and plans to visit USC's campus next Saturday before working out at the Los Angeles Nike Camp at Cerritos College on Sunday.

Depending on how Hutchings' visit unfolds, it could spell the beginning of a potential USC movement among several prominent West Coast prospects.

Hutchings has spoken with five-star Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta safety Su'a Cravens, four-star Oakley (Calif.) Freedom wide receiver Darrell Daniels, four-star Atwater (Calif.) Buhach offensive tackle Aaron Cochran and four-star Placer (Calif.) defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes about the possibility of playing together in college. It's certainly a long way from happening, but would constitute quite a coup for Lane Kiffin -- the type of haul that could establish the Trojans as Pac-12 frontrunners for years to come.

Of course, these tantalizing plans -- a term that should be used loosely, as nothing has yet to be discussed in detail -- happen almost every recruiting cycle and rarely come to fruition. But the idea is on the table. And it's certainly one to monitor as the 2013 recruiting cycle continues.

LSU's 2012 recruiting class wasn't bad, but it certainly wasn't on par with a typical Les Miles' haul. From 2008 to 2011, the Tigers boasted an average class rank of 6.25 -- a far cry from last year's No. 18 crop, one that didn't include any five-star prospects.

It's early, but Miles is doing all he can to avoid a repeat disappointment. LSU currently has six commitments, three of whom are members of the 2013 Rivals250: Monroe (La.) Neville athlete John Diarse, Loranger (La.) athlete Jeryl Brazil and Shreveport (La.) Green Oaks athlete Tre'Davious White.

Diarse is arguably the best of the bunch, an extremely versatile player who likely will play receiver in college. And his commitment could take on added significance. Diarse's pledge could also give LSU the inside track for 2014 defensive back Laurence Jones, his highly touted high school teammate. Jones was an All-Combine performer at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and could serve as the centerpiece of the Tigers' 2014 class.

In other conference happenings, Alabama lost a recruit when defensive back Artie Burns of Miami (Fla.) Northwestern decommitted last Monday. It's troubling, but The Tide still look strong. Nick Saban has eight prospects in his 2013 haul, each of whom is a four-star player or better. His priority now is landing a top quarterback, and advances are being made: Salt Lake City (Utah) Cottonwood's Cooper Bateman, Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline's Max Browne Raleigh (N.C.) Wakefield's Connor Mitch and Mentor's (Ohio) Mitch Trubisky all plan to attend the team's annual A-Day in April. Mitch and Butler (N.C.) quarterback Riley Ferguson both recently landed offers.

Finally, Texas A&M picked up two big-time verbal commitments in Cedar Hill (Texas) athlete Laquvionte Gonzalez and teammate Quincy Adeboyejo. But it looks like the Aggies might have to do some work to do to maintain momentum from their impressive start. Killeen (Texas) Shoemaker all-purpose backJohnny Jefferson officially decommitted before verbally pledging to Baylor, while North Richland Hills (Texas) Birdville offensive tackle Joas Aguilar added offers from Baylor and TCU and admitted that he is keeping an open mind to other programs. It poses an early challenge for new coach Kevin Sumlin and the SEC's newest member school.

Notre Dame watched as fellow Midwest recruiting powers Michigan and Ohio State got off to quick starts in the 2013 class. Then, stemming from a March 24 junior day event in South Bend, the Irish generated a run of their own commitments: Brian Kelly and Co. landed four top prospects, each of whom is projected to be an offensive contributor.

Headlining the Irish's recent additions is Kettering (Ohio) Archbishop Alter quarterback Malik Zaire, the nation's No. 7 dual-threat quarterback and the No. 136 recruit in the country. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound signal-caller was joined by three massive offensive linemen: 6-foot-7, 288-pound Hunter Bivin of Owensboro (Ky.) Apollo, 6-foot-7, 280-pound Colin McGovern of New Lenox (Ill.) Lincoln-Way West, and 6-foot-9, 280-pound Mike McGlinchey of Philadelphia (Pa.) William Penn. With the latest additions, the Irish now have seven commitments in their incoming 2013 crop.

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