By Andy Staples
February 06, 2008's Andy Staples will weigh in on the latest Signing Day news throughout the day. To provide your own commentary on the day's events, click here.

Thirteen members of UCLA's recruiting class gathered today at the Serving Spoon, an Inglewood, Calif., restaurant run by the parents of receiver signee Jerry Johnson, to sign their letters of intent. The show of unity blew away first-year Bruins coach Rick Neuheisel. And it may surprise you who Neuheisel thanked for helping the members of the class bond together.

Karl Dorrell.

That's right, Neuheisel thanked the guy whose firing led to his hiring.

"That's what I was pointing to in terms of congratulating Karl and thanking Karl and all the guys who were on Karl's staff," Neuheisel said in a teleconference. "That's unique when kids bond like that. ... It's a unique class in that regard, and I think it's off to a great start in terms of the kind of chemistry it'll need to be as successful as we want to be here at UCLA."

Neuheisel declined to answer a question about the Seattle Times series that ran last week that laid bare the many transgressions of his 2000 Washington team, but it doesn't seem as if the series had any negative effect on the Bruins' recruiting efforts. Neuheisel signed almost every player who had committed to Dorrell's staff, and the new staff added several more players. One of the new additions is Lake Balboa, Calif., tailback Milton Knox, who signed with the Bruins tonight. Knox chose the Bruins over Florida and Notre Dame.

Florida coach Urban Meyer said he planned to allow Gainesville (Fla.) Sun columnist Pat Dooley to sit in the Gators' offices and chronicle signing day.

"I said, 'It would really be a neat story to come up here, have a cup of coffee and watch the fax machine turn on and watch 43-year-old men act like 2-year-olds when they get a new toy at Christmas,'" Meyer said.

Apparently, it's not so neat when things go wrong. Tuesday night, when it appeared Florida was going to lose Lakeland, Fla., offensive lineman Ricky Barnum and Melbourne, Fla., defensive back Ramon Buchanan, Meyer changed his mind. He said he fired off a text message to Dooley saying the story might not be the best idea.

"Tuesday got a little rough," Meyer said, "with who's coming, who's not coming and coaches firing cell phones across the office when you lose a guy."

Breathe easy, Michigan fans. The Wolverines football staff has received a letter of intent from Cypress, Texas, tailback Sam McGuffie. Michigan will put out an official announcement on its Web site as soon as compliance officials give the go-ahead (nothing to worry about; this is standard procedure).

While the Wolverines were waiting on McGuffie, they signed Michael Shaw, a 6-foot, 185-pound back from Trotwood, Ohio, who previously had committed to Penn State. Shaw is one of a trio of Trotwood-Madison High teammates (receiver Roy Roundtree and tight end Brandon Moore are the others) to sign with Michigan.

I've always thought that if Miami could sign the best 25 players every year from Dade (Miami), Broward (Fort Lauderdale) and Palm Beach counties, the Hurricanes could compete for the national title every year. So let's look at the breakdown of Miami's 2008 class, the school's best in years.

Of Miami's 32 signees (seven already have enrolled), 19 hail from the three counties that make up South Florida proper. Coach Randy Shannon, who grew up in Miami and played for the Hurricanes, understands the value of home-grown talent. Playing for the U means more to those guys, and they'll prove it with their effort.

Maybe I'm jaded from all the Super Tuesday coverage, but it looks as if has called the nation for Alabama with about 75 percent of precincts reporting. The signing of Gadsden, Ala., linebacker Jerrell Harris this afternoon pushed the Crimson Tide past Notre Dame in the team rankings. As ranked by Rivals, Bama landed three five-star players, 19 four-star players, eight three-star players and two two-star players. For the journalism majors in the crowd, that's a whopping 32 signees.

So how is Alabama going to get everyone in when schools are allowed to add only 25 new scholarship players a year? With an assist from Birmingham News Bama beat writer Ian Rapoport, here's how the Tide can squeeze a few more into the class.

Receiver Chris Jackson and kicker Corey Smith have already enrolled, so they can count back toward last year's total. Bama coach Nick Saban also addressed the issue during his signing day press conference.

"We have a plan for how we're going to handle our numbers, but I think there were like 14 or 15 teams today that signed more than 30 guys," Saban said. "I'm not going to expound on this or be specific about it, but some guys grayshirt, some guys have academic issues you might have to place [in junior college or prep school], so we have a way to manage the future of that, but that's not something we're going to address publicly or make a public issue, nor is it something I think people need to be worried about."

For those unfamiliar with the term, a player takes a grayshirt when he signs a letter of intent but delays his enrollment until the spring term. That way, his scholarship can count either forward or backward, depending on which suits the program best. For example, a player who takes a grayshirt this year would count either toward his school's 2008 total or its 2009 total.

Now comes word out of Fernley, Nev., that Kevin Hart, the Fernley High offensive lineman who committed to Cal despite no scholarship offer, made it all up.

"I wanted to play D-I ball more than anything. When I realized that wasn't going to happen, I made up what I wanted to be reality," read a statement sent to the Reno (Nev.) Gazette-Journal by Teri White, assistant superintendent of the Lyon County School District, on behalf of Hart. "I am sorry for disappointing and embarrassing my family, coaches, Fernley High School, the involved universities and reporters covering the story."

This is sad in a lot of ways. First, for the folks in Fernley who got duped. Second, for Hart. While what he did was reprehensible in every way, he's going to have to deal with the fallout from it for a long time. That's a punishment I wouldn't wish on anyone.

Southern Miss Steps Up

First-year Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora said the first step in convincing a five-star recruit to come to a non-BCS school is realizing you actually have a chance at landing him. In a few moments, Fedora will greet a grateful fan base at a school-sponsored Signing Day party. More than likely, most of the questions will be about Ocean Springs, Miss., receiver DeAndre Brown.

Brown, a 6-foot-6, 208-pounder, picked the Golden Eagles over the likes of LSU, Auburn and Tennessee. He did it because he believed when Fedora, the former Oklahoma State and Florida offensive coordinator, explained that those schools aren't necessarily better for Brown just because they play in BCS conferences.

"You have to make kids understand that's not really what it's all about," Fedora said, referring to the BCS leagues. "We can prepare guys for the next level. We can play in bowl games every year. We can win championships."

Fedora, who said he expects Brown to qualify academically, thinks Brown's choice might be the best recruiting tool he'll have at his disposal when he meets players in the class of 2009.

"It helps tremendously," Fedora said. "Here's a kid who could have gone anywhere in the country. He chose Southern Miss."

DB Johnson Picks LSU After All

Patrick Johnson may have delayed his announcement, but he didn't change his mind. The Pompano Beach, Fla., defensive back signed, as planned, with LSU. Still, the swirling rumors spooked LSU coach Les Miles enough to inquire as to whether Johnson had a change of heart.

"He's cool, though," Johnson told The Miami Herald. "I sent him the letter of intent early this morning. They knew, though. They knew I decided."

Sorry to get your hopes up, Miami fans.

McGuffie Torn Between Michigan And Cal

They're still waiting in Ann Arbor for a letter of intent from Cypress, Texas, tailback Sam McGuffie, who became something of a YouTube legend thanks to several mindbending clips of the Cy-Fair High star hurdling defenders. Michigan coaches may have to keep waiting. Cy-Fair coach Ed Pustejovsky told me that McGuffie had not yet signed his letter. McGuffie told that he is torn between Michigan and Cal.

McGuffie committed to the Wolverines in June, and he said previously that Michigan's coaching change would not be an issue with him, but he took an official visit to Cal this past weekend. Was it enough to flip McGuffie? We may not know today. McGuffie told Rivals he isn't sure if he'll make a decision today.

Couple this with Terrelle Pryor's delay, and Michigan coaches (and fans) have to be on the verge of a collective heart attack.

Good News For The Gators

Florida finally got some good news. Receiver T.J. Lawrence from Lakeland, Fla., picked the Gators over Michigan, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Florida State.

Besides, no one at Florida should get too upset about today's events. The Gators still have safeties Will Hill and Dee Finley coming in, and they've already got offensive lineman Matt Patchan and receiver Carl Moore on campus. Plus, the NCAA cleared Florida coach Urban Meyer on Tuesday of any wrongdoing for those telephone chats he had last year with Moore's girlfriend, who now attends Florida on a gymnastics scholarship.

No. 1 RB Scott Chooses Colorado Over Texas

From the blood-is-thicker-than-national-titles department: Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure tailback Darrell Scott, the nation's top-rated back, is going to Colorado. Scott's uncle, Josh Smith, is a sophomore receiver at Colorado. That got the Buffaloes in the door, and Coach Dan Hawkins and his staff did the rest, beating out Texas to land Scott.

This is the type of signing that can help shift the balance of power in a conference. The Big 12 North could get very interesting if Colorado begins stockpiling talent and Missouri and Kansas build on their 2007 success.

Julio Headed To 'Bama

Alabama fans have got to be loving this. Julio Jones just announced that he would sign with Alabama, and Auburn seems to be missing on just about every target. Depending on how the rest of the day unfolds, the Tide could wind up with the nation's best recruiting classes.

When he was at LSU, Nick Saban stockpiled talent this way. We all know how that worked out. Tide fans shouldn't get impatient, though. One class won't win Bama an SEC title. But if Saban keeps up this pace -- and he proved at LSU that he can -- the balance of power could shift.

Of course, if Auburn fans feel bad about today, they can think about the fact that they've won the past six Iron Bowls.

Julio Will Wear A Shade Of Red

Bad news, Florida fans. Though Foley (Ala.) Julio Jones has a Florida hat on the table, Foley coach Todd Watson just told WJOX-FM in Birmingham that Jones likely will wear some shade of red next season. That could be Alabama crimson, Florida State garnet or Oklahoma crimson.

Pryor Officially Delays Decision

Terrelle Pryor won't be signing with anyone today, but the Jeannette, Pa., quarterback did hold a press conference. He said Oregon has not been eliminated, and he wants to give all four of his finalists (Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State) a fair chance. Pryor also said no school has given him a deadline for a decision.

If these schools want Pryor, a deadline probably wouldn't help. Pryor is under enough pressure as it is, and the school that uses a light touch may have a better chance of landing him.

Nasty Side Of Recruiting

This is where recruiting gets nasty. Detroit defensive end Nick Perry just announced he will sign with USC, and a few Michigan fans have begun flinging insults at Perry on their message boards. On, fans have called Perry names that won't be repeated here and accused him of accepting gifts from USC.

Some more rational fans have responded by telling their buddies to cool it, but the few have besmirched the reputation of the many. Obviously, most Michigan fans -- or fans of any school, for that matter -- never would think horrible things about a teenager trying to chart his future, but a couple of crazies make everybody look bad.

Petrino Makes Big Splash

Bobby Petrino has made his first big splash on the recruiting scene as Arkansas coach. Little Rock (Ark.) Central Arkansas Christian cornerback Joe Adams, a longtime USC commitment, announced today that he would sign with the home-state Razorbacks.

Petrino seems to have had little trouble convincing recruits to come play for him, which comes as a bit of a surprise. I thought all the negativity surrounding Petrino's exit from the Atlanta Falcons would give players and their parents pause, especially after Falcons safety Lawyer Milloy called Petrino a "cancer." That apparently hasn't slowed Petrino, who proved at Louisville that he can win big at the college level.

Nutt Makes First Big Sign At Ole Miss

Big news in the SEC. Enrique Davis, a Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military tailback rated a five-star prospect by, spurned Tennessee and Auburn to sign with Ole Miss. Davis, from Enterprise, Ala., originally signed with Auburn last year.

This is a huge signing for first-year Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt. To go head-to-head with two conference powers and win should give Nutt's Rebels some cachet. It makes sense that a back would want to sign with Nutt, though. All you have to do is look at what Darren McFadden and Felix Jones did under Nutt at Arkansas.

Coaches Slumber Party In Troy

Most of the Left Coast news won't start rolling in for another few hours, but the USC coaching staff isn't waiting. According to, the coach's official site, staff members spent the night at the office playing Nintendo Wii before adjourning for brief naps prior to a 4 a.m. PT wake-up call.

By 4:42 a.m., The Who's Baba O'Reilly was blasting from Carroll's office, but the fax machine hadn't spit out any letters of intent (recruits can begin signing at 7 a.m. ET). The first fax came at 4:48 a.m. from Norcross, Ga., receiver Brice Butler.

"Come on baby, come on! Bring it home!" Carroll said as the fax came in. "Sing to me brother!"

Top CB Johnson Delays Decision

Interesting news out of South Florida about one of the top committed players at LSU. According to The Miami Herald, Pompano Beach Ely High defensive back Patrick Johnson's signing ceremony has been pushed to 1 p.m.

Johnson originally committed to Miami, but he switched his commitment to LSU during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He intended to enroll early at LSU, but the NCAA Clearinghouse flagged his ACT score. (Johnson blamed Florida officials for getting the score flagged, so the Gators probably aren't an option.)

Could Miami be getting another big-time recruit? The Hurricanes already landed Miami Northwestern teammates Benjamin Jones (OT) and Tommy Streeter (WR) and Melbourne (Fla.) Palm Bay defensive back Ramon Buchanan today. Meanwhile, LSU fans will have to wait to learn whether the Tigers will keep Johnson, but they did get some good news. Garland, Texas, defensive tackle Chancey Aghayere signed with LSU despite rumors that Florida was making a late push.

Stud DE Leaves Texas A&M In The Dust

The coaching change at Texas A&M may have cost the Aggies one of their top prospects. Weatherford, Texas, defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore, who committed to Dennis Franchione's staff last summer, signed with Notre Dame on Wednesday. Lewis-Moore and new coach Mike Sherman's staff at A&M never connected, so he made a switch.

These things happen when schools make coaching changes, and that's why college football prospects are luckier than college basketball prospects. If Lewis-Moore were a basketball player, he would probably have signed a letter-of-intent before his senior season. The coach he wanted to play for would have been fired, and he would have been stuck with a new coach he didn't know. At least Lewis-Moore got to make his decision after Texas A&M officials made their decision to fire Franchione.

Florida Burned ... Again

Ricky Barnum wasn't the only committed player to burn Florida on signing day. Melbourne (Fla.) Palm Bay High defensive back Ramon Buchanan, who switched his commitment last month from Miami to Florida, has signed with the Hurricanes.

Watch out for Miami, which has quietly put together an outstanding class. Buchanan, whose hometown is near Cape Canaveral, only adds to a group that could help launch the 'Canes into a new era.

Michigan Snags Barnum From Florida

Notre Dame coaches probably understand how Florida coaches feel right now. The Fighting Irish lost two previously committed players to the Gators (DE Justin Trattou in 2007 and DT Omar Hunter in 2008). Now, one of Notre Dame's rivals has given Florida a taste of its own medicine.

Ricky Barnum, a Lakeland (Fla.) Lake Gibson High offensive lineman who committed to Florida last month, just slipped a Michigan hat on his head during a signing ceremony at his school. Barnum's coach, Keith DeMeyer, told Barnum developed a relationship with several Michigan coaches when they were recruiting him for West Virginia last year.

'Bama Gets Surprise Commit From RB

No huge surprises yet today, but Alabama pulled one off Tuesday. Running back Mark Ingram, the son of the former Michigan State star of the same name, chose the Crimson Tide over Iowa and nearby Michigan State. Ingram, from Flint, Mich., told he had no trouble leaving his home state.

"The players [at Alabama] had the same goals and aspirations as me," Ingram told "They all want to win championships. They all want to get a good education. They all just want to be the best players they can be."

Alabama coach Nick Saban has built a monster of a class, and it could get even better today. Foley (Ala.) receiver Julio Jones, Gadsden (Ala.) linebacker Jerrell Harris and Tallahassee (Fla.) cornerback T.J. Bryant all will announce later today, and all have Alabama on their list of finalists. Ingram said he loved the idea of joining such a talented group, even if it means he'll have to work harder to get on the field.

"Coach Saban never promised me anything," Ingram said. "I'm going to have to go in there and compete."

Coveted QB Pryor Will Delay Decision

Terrelle Pryor will not sign a National Letter of Intent today.

The Jeannette (Pa.) High quarterback decided late Tuesday that he would take his time to decide between Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. This is the second time Pryor has changed his mind about announcing on Signing Day. During the weekend, he said he would wait, but Monday he said he would sign. Now, the plan has changed again.

"I just want to explore my options more," Pryor told on Wednesday morning.

In the same interview, Pryor also bristled at the notion that he is stretching out his recruitment to get more attention. "I hate attention," Pryor said. "I hate it."

This is clearly a case of a young man who feels a lot of pressure as he makes one of the most important decisions of his life. Plenty of recruits get attention, but few have received the kind of coverage Pryor has. So don't get upset, Big Ten fans. Let the guy make his decision on his own terms.

It probably wouldn't be this bad if Pryor's recruitment hadn't become a corollary to the Rich Rodriguez-to-Michigan saga. Pryor inadvertently helped break the news that Rodriguez -- who had been recruiting Pryor for West Virginia -- had left for Michigan. And every time the messy divorce between Rodriguez and West Virginia gets mentioned, so does Pryor. Now, some Michigan fans think he's the potential savior of a program that doesn't need saving. And if Michigan wants him that bad, then of course Ohio State needs him. Plus, he's from Pennsylvania. How could he turn down the home-state school?

Pryor probably feels like a wishbone after Thanksgiving dinner. Here's hoping he can make his decision with a clear mind and pick a school where he will be happy.

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