The decision by De'Anthony Thomas to flip from USC to Oregon could mean one of two things. Or maybe it's a combination of both.
On one hand, it could be a watershed moment. The Ducks already have surpassed the Trojans on the field. The past two seasons, Oregon has beaten USC by a combined 48 points. Now, the Ducks have proved they can drop into USC's backyard -- literally; Thomas played at Crenshaw High, which is just 2.9 miles from the USC campus -- and smuggle out a player the Trojans coveted.
On the other hand, this could be just another instance of a player choosing one school over another because his chosen school will allow him to play the position he prefers. Thomas, who stands 5-foo-9 and weighs about 170 pounds, will have a chance to play tailback at Oregon. It's unlikely he would have gotten that chance at USC, which uses a pro-style offense that isn't built around getting small, fast players the ball in space. At USC, Thomas probably would have been better suited as a cornerback.
"My heart is on offense," Thomas told DuckTerritory.com, "and I fit what they do better than anyone."
On that point, Thomas may be correct. He is small, but he's blazing fast and plays quite a bit stronger than his size suggests. If that sounds familiar, it should. That's also the ideal way to describe Oregon tailback LaMichael James.
Thomas also said he is giving up "Black Mamba," the nickname bestowed upon him as a youth football player by Snoop Dogg that really belongs to Kobe Bryant. Instead, Thomas will be "Baby DT." Why not just DT? That's the nickname of Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas.
So is the switch a paradigm shift, or is it a player choosing a school based on position? The coaching staffs at each school probably would choose one of those poles, but the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
Thomas' flip is meaningful, no matter the reason. USC certainly hauled in its share of top-flight recruits Wednesday -- including a few who also considered Oregon -- and the Trojans finished far ahead of the Ducks in the team recruiting rankings. But the defection of Thomas, who committed to USC in May 2010, felt more significant than any other individual recruiting fight.
Still, it might have seemed a little more significant if each program had offered him the same thing.
After spending a week on a bus with an elite seven-on-seven team from South Florida, one of the stories I wrote concerned the concept of the verbal commitment. I thought it might be interesting to follow up and see how many of the players I wrote about in the story wound up signing with the school they considered their destination in July.
Miami Southridge DB Gerod HollimanThen: Ole MissSigned with: Louisville
Miami Southridge DB Andrew JohnsonThen: Ole MissSigned with: Louisville
Plantation S Jeremy CashThen: Ohio StateSigned with: Ohio State
Plantation LB Ryan ShazierThen: FloridaSigned with: Ohio State
Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson LB Kent TureneThen: USCSigned with: Georgia
Miami Northwestern QB Teddy BridgewaterThen: MiamiSigned with: Louisville
Miami Northwestern WR Eli RogersThen: MiamiSigned with: Louisville
If you're scoring at home, that's one of seven who wound up at the school they were committed to in July.
And just for fun, here are the destinations of some of the other players highlighted in the series.
- Fort Lauderdale Dillard S Wayne Lyons: Stanford
- Oakland Park Northeast DE B.J. Dubose: Louisville
- Coconut Creek North Broward Prep WR A.J. Sebastiano: Northern Illinois
It appeared early Wednesday afternoon that Auburn had landed the nation's top offensive line haul on Signing Day. That may still happen, but it's not official yet because the nation's top-ranked tackle has yet to sign.
In a televised announcement, Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha tackle Cyrus Kouandjio said he would sign with Auburn. That came as a surprise to those who thought Kouandjio would want to play alongside his brother, Arie, at Alabama. After the announcement, Kouandjio began having second thoughts about his choice.
On Facebook, Kouandjio wrote Wednesday that he needed more time: "not completely sure. . i just wanna b around the fam for a while and just. . . . . . . . . . . . wait"
DeMatha coach Bill McGregor told MDHigh.com that he began receiving calls from Auburn after the announcement wondering where Kouandjio's paperwork was. "[Cyrus] finally called me back and said he's going to talk it over tonight, call me later and let me know something," McGregor told the site. "I told him, 'You're the one that has to be happy. You're not making the decision for me ... for mom, for dad, for anyone -- it's your decision. And whatever you decide, I'm behind you 100 percent.'"
After his announcement, Kouandjio hinted that he might not be finished contemplating his choice. "I would love to play right beside my brother," Kouandjio told MDHigh.com. "Honestly, I'm still thinking about it."
Kouandjio has until May 31 to sign a national letter-of-intent -- and there isn't a school in the country that wouldn't find a scholarship for him even after that date -- so he has plenty of time to make his choice. It probably won't take nearly that long.
But until Kouandjio decides, the people on both sides of the Iron Bowl will be watching and hoping Kouandjio chooses their school.
Last year, I complained that recruits weren't being creative enough with their announcements. The whole hat dance hasn't been cool for at least 10 years, but it remains standard operating procedure for top prospects when announcing their chosen school.
Isaiah Crowell, the star tailback from Carver High in Columbus, Ga., apparently got the message. Ladies and gentlemen, this is how you announce your choice of school.
A few posts ago, we discussed the awkwardness of having the wrong banners at a recruit's unexpected signing. It only took a few hours to top that on the cringeworthy scale.
Here you go.
The Iron Bowl just became even more of a family rivalry.
Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio announced Wednesday that he will sign with Auburn. Kouandjio had been considered an Alabama lean because his brother, Arie, plays for the Crimson Tide.
When Cyrus gets to Auburn, the Kouandjios will be the second set of brothers on different sides of the rivalry. They'll join the Smiths, Eric and Petey, who stood on opposite sidelines last season. Eric, the older brother, plays fullback at Auburn. Petey plays linebacker at Alabama. Both starred at Armwood High in Seffner, Fla.
By landing Cyrus Kouandjio, Auburn certainly cinched the nation's highest rated offensive line class. Most major recruiting services considered Kouandjio the nation's best tackle prospect. Meanwhile, Auburn classmate Christian Westerman (of Chandler, Ariz.) is considered to be in the top three by most services. In addition, signee Reese Dismukes of Spanish Fort, Ala., is the nation's top-rated center prospect.
One of Ohio State's committed players awoke Wednesday in a Cleveland jail.
Chris Carter, a 6-foot-5, 330-pound offensive lineman from John F. Kennedy High, was arrested Tuesday and accused of fondling a 15-year-old classmate under the guise of measuring her for an ROTC uniform.
According to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Carter later admitted to police that he had fondled other girls using the same scheme. According to police, Carter recorded the measurements of eight other girls in a book.
Carter committed to Ohio State 11 months ago. Needless to say, the Buckeyes have not received his letter-of-intent.
Cooper Washington, a speedy 6-foot-4, 225-pound defensive end from Muleshoe, Texas, committed to Oklahoma last April. Needless to say, some folks were surprised Wednesday when Washington signed with Texas Tech.
Check out the banners behind Washington at his signing ceremony in this photo from RedRaiderSports.com.
I was in the Lake Butler (Fla.) High gym five years ago for C.J. Spiller's announcement. Everyone in the building assumed Spiller would sign with Florida or Florida State. The smart money was on the Seminoles.
When Spiller announced he would sign with Clemson, there was a loud, collective gasp. Later, Spiller explained that a Tigers assistant and former Alabama walk-on named Dabo Swinney had been instrumental in his decision to choose Clemson. Wednesday, Clemson head coach Swinney struck again, grabbing a Sunshine State star away from conference rival FSU.
St. Augustine (Fla.) Pedro Menendez High linebacker Tony Steward (No. 12 in the 247Sports.com Top 100) chose Clemson over FSU on Wednesday. Judging by his comments to the Florida Times-Union, he made up his mind a while ago.
"I felt like the best school for me was Clemson," Steward told the paper. "When I visited there, I was ready to commit. I waited to hear the other schools out. Ultimately, I had to make this decision for myself. I think I can get on the field early at Clemson and I felt at home there and felt comfortable with the people."
Swinney was especially successful in Florida this year, signing Fort Myers receiver Sammy Watkins, Punta Gorda back Mike Bellamy and Daytona Beach safety Cortez Davis. Now, the Tigers will wait to find out whether a target from North Carolina will put a bow on this class.
At 11:30 a.m., Wadesboro, N.C., linebacker Stephone Anthony will announce his college choice. Anthony, a Rivals.com five-star recruit, also is considering Florida, North Carolina, NC State and Virginia Tech.
So does all this recruiting success take a little pressure off Swinney? Of course not. Clemson has the resources and fertile recruiting ground to compete for national titles, yet outside of an appearance in the 2009 league title game, the Tigers have rarely even competed for ACC titles.
Swinney will have to turn his February largesse into on-field production in the fall.
Lane Kiffin may be clear across the country, but the USC coach hasn't stopped tweaking his former employer.
Wednesday, Kiffin landed a Kentucky linebacker coveted by Tennessee. Lamar Dawson, a 6-foot-2, 230-pounder from Danville, Ky., chose the Trojans on Wednesday over the Volunteers and his home-state Kentucky Wildcats. Dawson also made official visits to Michigan and Oregon.
The Volunteers wanted Dawson, but they got good news on the linebacker front late Tuesday when Palm Beach (Fla.) Dwyer's Curt Maggitt confirmed he would sign with Tennessee. USC, meanwhile, watched Las Vegas defensive lineman Jalen Grimble make a not-unexpected flip to Miami on Tuesday night.
It's still early on the West Coast, so we won't know for a few more hours how USC fared with its local prospects. Fort Lauderdale, Fla., linebacker Kent Turene -- who committed to the Trojans in July -- has also taken official visits to Georgia, Nebraska and Texas Tech. Turene is expected to announce his choice Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles Crenshaw cornerback De'Anthony "Black Mamba" Thomas will reportedly announce his school choice at 8 p.m. ET. Thomas, one of the nation's best pure athletes, is a longtime USC commit, but if this recent photo is any indication, the Trojans could be getting bad news.
The wheel of commitments finally stopped spinning for Fort Lauderdale, Fla., cornerback Marcus Roberson. Roberson, from national power St. Thomas Aquinas, originally committed to Texas Tech earlier this month. His uncle, Otis Mounds, coaches defensive backs for the Red Raiders.
Roberson decommitted from Texas Tech. Monday, he said he planned to go to Auburn. "I know Auburn is where I want to go," Roberson told Rivals.com Monday morning. "That's the school I'm comfortable with. I've wanted to go to Auburn since the beginning." Tuesday, Roberson and Auburn parted ways.
Wednesday, Roberson signed with Florida.
Roberson told The Orlando Sentinel he chose Florida because of his relationship with new Gators defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson, who had been recruiting Roberson for Texas Tech before first-year Florida coach Will Muschamp hired the former -- wait for it -- Auburn defensive back to coach DBs in Gainesville.
Roberson's letter-of-intent wasn't the only good news Muschamp's staff received Wednesday. Brooksville, Fla., receiver Ju'Juan Story signed with the Gators as well. Story originally committed to Florida, but he took a late visit to Ohio State and considered flipping to the Buckeyes.
Look out, Louisiana-Monroe.
An SEC and an ACC school are challenging the Warhawks in SI.com's All-Name Class of 2011 Recruiting Team rankings. If you read this story -- and I hope you did -- you know the Warhawks were the leaders in the clubhouse with commitments from Shawnee, Okla., quarterback Brayle Brown, Springdale, Ark., linebacker Hunter Kissinger, LaPlace, La., tight end Harley Scioneaux and national all-namer Prince McJunkins of Wagoner, Okla.
But Ole Miss still might contend for the team title. The Rebels already had junior college transfer Philander Moore on campus. (Naturally, Philander flirted with Utah before ultimately choosing Ole Miss a few weeks ago.) Wednesday, Ole Miss received a letter-of-intent from Winona, Miss., safety Chelarvez Brown. Brown gets double points for having an incredible given name and an equally awesome nickname. To his friends, he's Chief.
If the Rebels want to challenge Louisiana-Monroe for all-name supremacy, they should hurry. Fort Pierce, Fla., defensive end Wonderful Terrific Monds reportedly is considering Buffalo and Youngstown State, but any self-respecting program looking to bolster its name ranking would do well to sign Monds.
Meanwhile, Wake Forest is closing in on the Warhawks. According to the program's Web site, the Demon Deacons already have letters-of-intent from Durham, N.C., receiver Sherman Ragland III and Powder Springs, Ga., linebacker Brandon Chubb. At 10 a.m., the crown jewel of the class of 2011 will sign with Wake. God's Power Offor, a defensive end from Miami, confirmed to me via text message that he will sign with the Demon Deacons at a ceremony at American High.
Stay tuned to SI.com for more in-depth coverage of the only recruiting team rankings that really matter.
And now, a link for only the truly, truly twisted recruitniks.
This is a live camera feed of the fax machine in the football office at Alabama.
No, they didn't build a show around the fax machine. It's just a fax machine, sitting in an office.
The thundersnow blanketing the Midwest is wreaking havoc on the National Signing Day plans at some schools. With snow and ice covering roads, key personnel are having a tough time getting to work.
At Notre Dame, football media relations director Brian Hardin always wondered what the phrase "other duties as assigned" meant when he read the posting for the job he now occupies. Wednesday, he found out.
"I'm about to don a chauffeur's cap as I leave campus to pick up our compliance director and bring her to the Gug to sign off on NLIs..." Hardin tweeted Wednesday morning.
Reached by phone during his drive, Hardin explained that he was assigned to fetch Jill Bodensteiner, Notre Dame's associate athletic director for compliance, from her home and bring her to the Guglielmino Athletics Complex so she can sign off on the letters-of-intent coming in from across the country.
Hardin said the drive wasn't as perilous as one might think -- especially considering the fact that between 12-20 inches of snow were expected to fall on South Bend overnight.
"I was shocked at how clean the main streets and the side streets are," Hardin said. "It's actually the driveways and getting people out of their homes."
Knowing some recruits won't be able to get to school Wednesday to fax their letters-of-intent, the NCAA has reminded prospects and schools that there are other ways to deliver a document. In an e-mail to the Detroit Free Press, NCAA spokeswoman Stacy Osburn explained that even a good cell-phone pic of a signed National Letter of Intent will do the trick in a pinch.
"When sent to the institution, if that photo appears no differently than a scanned copy via e-mail it is acceptable provided all information is legible and includes a view of the whole document," Osburn wrote. "Also, there would have to be a photo of the athletics aid agreement. The institution should still get the fax, scan or mailed copy for the conference office in case they need a clear copy for validation."
Meanwhile, back in South Bend, Hardin reached his destination safely. Since she knew Hardin would never make it to her driveway, Bodensteiner met him at a nearby intersection.
"Oh, here's Jill now," Hardin said. "She has her thumb in the air."
As you probably already know, if 6-foot-6, 260-pound Rock Hill, S.C., defensive end Jadeveon Clowney walks outside and sees his shadow, it means he won't choose a school until Feb. 14. What? It means six more weeks of winter? I'm probably mixing up my concurrent cult holidays, but forgive me. It's early for a sportswriter.
We'll be here all day at SI.com, but if you have to leave your computer, feel free to follow me on Twitter. To help you map out the day, here is a tentative -- remember, these are 17- and 18-year-olds -- schedule of announcement times for some of the major uncommitted prospects. All times are eastern.
10 a.m.: Tony Steward, LB, St. Augustine (Fla.) Pedro Menendez (Considering Florida State and Clemson)
11 a.m.: Tim Jernigan, DT Lake City (Fla.) Columbia (Considering Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Tennessee)
11:30 a.m.: Stephone Anthony, LB, Wadesboro (N.C.) Anson (Considering Clemson, Florida, North Carolina, NC State and Virginia Tech); Christian Heyward, DT, San Diego Point Loma (Considering Oregon, San Diego State, USC)
Noon: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha Catholic (Considering Alabama, Auburn, New Mexico)
1:30 p.m.: Curtis Grant, LB, Richmond (Va.) Hermitage (Considering Florida, North Carolina, Ohio State, Virginia); Isaiah Crowell, RB, Columbus (Ga.) Carver (Considering Alabama, Auburn, Georgia)
3 p.m.: Marqise Lee, ATH, Gardena (Calif.) Juipero Serra (Considering Cal, Miami, Oregon, USC)
8 p.m.: De'Anthony Thomas, ATH, Los Angeles Crenshaw (Considering Oregon and USC)