April 23, 2012

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

After securing the nation's No. 27 class last year, Virginia could be primed for an even more sought after haul in 2013. Following a relatively slow start, the Cavaliers have been on a roll: Two Our Lady of Good Counsel (Md.) prospects, quarterback Brendan Marshall and wide receiver Andre Levrone, committed in the past five weeks. The familiarly between the two could pay immediate dividends in Charlottesville, and the relationship with a local power (Good Counsel has won the last three WCAC titles) could have long-term recruiting benefits.

That's not the only big news for Mike London and Co., though. Last week, Virginia sealed the deal with four-star Richmond (Va.) Varina cornerback Tim Harris, one of the top defensive backs in the country. The Cavaliers now have four verbal pledges, all from three- and four-star recruits.

Virginia also seems to be in strong position with linebacker Reggie McGee and cornerback Kirk Garner, both also out of Good Counsel. Could the ACC have a new rising contender in the making?

One of the primary goals of every coaching regime is to ensure in-state recruiting success. For schools such as Syracuse, this becomes doubly important: New York has a dearth of local BCS recruits. Though several New York area prospects -- including running backs Augustus Edwards and Laray Smith, defensive end Ebenezer Ogundeko and offensive lineman Alexander Officer -- visited the Orange during spring practice, none have currently committed. That places an added onus on Doug Marrone and Co. to lock up local talent moving forward.

As summer approaches, look for Syracuse to make moves on a number of nearby recruits who currently lack offers. Among them: quarterback Christopher Laviano, wide receiver Malique Belfort, tight end Cameron Stapleton and defensive standouts Cullen Casey and Ousmane Camara.

The Cornhuskers more than doubled their commitment total over the course of the past 10 days, grabbing pledges from Lincoln (Neb.) Southwest linebacker Josh Banderas, Milton (Wisc.) defensive end A.J. Natter and Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney linebacker Courtney Love. Nebraska now has five commits -- three coming from coveted four-star prospects.

Banderas, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound force, is ranked as the top prospect in the state of Nebraska. Natter is fresh off a junior campaign in which he tallied 76 tackles and eight sacks, and Love selected the Huskers over Big Ten rivals Ohio State, Michigan State and Illinois. Bo Pelini's vaunted defense could soon receive some high-powered reinforcements.

With Max Browne's commitment to USC, Oklahoma is left scrambling to secure a top 2013 quarterback recruit. Dual-threat target J.T. Barrett pledged to Ohio State on April 18, and Colleyville (Texas) Heritage signal-caller Cody Thomas is no sure thing: He's also weighing offers to Oregon, Oklahoma State, Auburn and Notre Dame.

The top two options may be in-state prospect Brayden Scott and Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame quarterback Kelly Hilinski. Neither have offers to date, but both are attracting increased attention: Scott helped Sequoyah (Okla.) High to a 7-3 record last year, while Hilinski has prototypical BCS size; he's 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds.

Petaluma (Calif.) athlete Elijah Qualls named his top five last week and Washington was on top -- an encouraging sign for the Huskies. The Pac-12 program became especially aggressive with new assistant coaches Tosh Lupoi, Eric Kiesau and Peter Simon in the fold and could build off their strong finish in 2012. Qualls is a 6-foot-2, 280-pounder who can play on either side of the ball and raved about his recent unofficial visit to the Seattle-area campus.

It's shaping up to be a big couple of weeks for the Huskies, as they're set to host a bevy of touted prospects for junior day. They currently have just two verbals in 2013 -- running back Aaron Baltazar and wide receiver Sammie Long -- but could soon pick things up in a major way.

South Carolina vamped up its recruiting efforts with three April commitments, giving Steve Spurrier six in the class of 2013. Dillon (S.C.) stalwart Bryce King was one of two pledges from the Gamecocks' spring game, and should immediately bolster the offensive line upon his arrival to campus (he's the nation's No. 3 center).

Following three-star athlete Jasper Sasser's commitment, all eyes turn to Rivals250 pro-style quarterback Connor Mitch. Mitch has made two visits to Columbia over the past month and recently named the Gamecocks his leader. He is one of only three quarterbacks they've offered thus far, and -- by all appearances -- is the program's highest priority target.

Mitch is expected to name his top five soon, and LSU and North Carolina also seem to be in the running. But the smart money, at least for now, may be on Spurrier.

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