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February 1, 2011

Roundtable: College selling points

ROUNDTABLES: Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Monday

Rivals.com football recruiting analysts weigh in on National Signing Day topics every day leading up to Feb. 2.

What school has the best selling point once it gets players on campus - and what is that?

Barry Every: I'm hearing Oregon has the best of the best when it comes to facilities, uniforms, etc. I think once kids go out there they see how beautiful the state is and peaceful the surroundings are, plus the Ducks have all that Nike product coming in and being updated on a regular basis. They used to just recruit California and the Pacific Northwest, and now they are getting kids from all over the country. Maybe it's the feathers.

Mike Farrell: USC and Hollywood, baby. Something about the glitz and glamour of L.A. seems to change some kids when they visit USC. It used to be that way with Miami. I would notice kids go off on visits to Miami and come back completely different, stuck on the 'Canes. Now that seems to happen more often than not at USC. Before he retired I would have said it was Urban Meyer and his closing skills, but I'll say USC and Hollywood now.

Adam Gorney: There probably isn't a better indoor facility than Oregon because of all the money Nike sinks into the program. It is an absolutely immaculate building with all kinds of amenities, probably many of them unnecessary for football players but still a spectacular showcase for recruits visiting campus. The locker room is gorgeous, there's a waterfall, a juice bar, all kinds of hot and cold tubs and everything a football player might want or need. A new $41 million, six-story building is planned for 2013. Getting national recruits to Eugene, Ore., is often difficult but the facilities make many of them want to stay.

Chris Nee: I think that changes every year, and this time around it is Auburn. What do the Tigers have? They have a new crystal trophy that says they are national champions. Kids love a winner. National championships open a lot of doors and create interest for kids from all areas of the United States.

Keith Niebuhr: I'll throw a couple of schools out there. Let's start with Auburn. What I keep hearing is that prospects love the kindness and familylike atmosphere there. The other school I hear a lot of good things about is Oregon. Just about every prospect says they're blown away by the facilities in Eugene.

Brian Perroni: Texas has a major advantage in that Austin is seen as a "cool" city by most recruits. There is a lot to do within minutes of campus and it is in the middle of one of the prettiest regions in the state of Texas. The 6th Street scene is also a major selling point for the university.

Who is a recruiting coordinator on the rise?

Barry Every: Dameyune Craig has done a tremendous job as the recruiting coordinator at Florida State. The Seminoles are pulling in one of the nation's best classes and he already has an early commit from possibly the top player in Alabama for 2012 in Chris Casher. On top of that, he is the quarterbacks coach, which means he is being scrutinized more by coach Jimbo Fisher than any other position coach. That's a lot of pressure if you ask me.

Mike Farrell: Dameyune Craig from Florida State. He is a young coach, very active in recruiting and is very organized. He is leading one of the best staffs in the country. The way FSU is recruiting this year is as good as I've seen it there in my years covering the 'Noles because it has been steady and consistent. In the old days, FSU would rely on a big close for a top class. Even if it whiffed on National Signing Day this year, it's a special class regardless and this guy is a rising star.

Adam Gorney: Frank Wilson at LSU definitely deserves some credit. In his first year with the Tigers, Wilson has done a tremendous job coordinating with the other coaches to put together one of the nation's best recruiting class in the toughest college football conference. Three five-star prospects - Anthony Johnson, La'El Collins and Jarvis Landry - are already in the fold. There are only nine four-star recruits in the class but there is a chance to add a four-star defensive tackle and others.

Chris Nee: Frank Wilson at LSU has done an excellent job in his role as recruiting coordinator for the Tigers. The New Orleans native continues the tradition of the Tigers keeping in-state talent home. A young, aggressive coach, Wilson is good at catching the ear of the nation's top talent.

Keith Niebuhr: Jeff Scott of Clemson. Coming off a disappointing 6-7 season, the Tigers are poised to have arguably the best class the program has ever produced. In doing so, they've pulled two five-star players out of Florida - running back Mike Bellamy and receiver Sammy Watkins. Now, that's impressive.

Brian Perroni: Morgan Scalley at Utah has done an outstanding job. He not only serves as the recruiting coordinator but also coaches defensive backs and recruits the Houston area for the Utes. He has landed some big-time talent the last two years, such as Terrell Reese and Damian Payne in 2010 and Eric Rowe and Jarrell Oliver this year. He has gone head-to-head with Oklahoma and Texas A&M, and come out victorious. He was also the first coach to offer Oregon freshman standout Josh Huff last year, proving he has an eye for hidden talent.

National Signing Day 2011 will be remembered for what?

Barry Every: All the last-second changes in commitments. There will be some surprises for staffs that thought they had kids and for whatever reason they signed the paper for another school. I know for a fact that kids will get several sets of LOIs from different schools. Some of these kids may have been committed for a long time. It's hard for a 17 or 18 year old to tell a coach no. And sometimes they make things worse by waiting until the end.

Mike Farrell: It could be the weather. If the Midwest, Northeast and other areas get hammered with predicted snow, ice, tornadoes and whatever, schools will be closed, power will be out and driving will be tough, which means that faxing letters on Wednesday could be a problem. I've never seen weather really affect National Signing Day to a great extent over the last decade but this could be the year.

Adam Gorney: I'm going to remember Signing Day 2011 as the day the best high school player in maybe a decade or more commits to - let's say for argument's sake - South Carolina. It probably won't come on Wednesday, but what I'll remember about this month is Jadeveon Clowney. I haven't seen all the great ones personally, but many respected people in this profession believe he might be the best high school player since the inception of Rivals.com. To see him in college and then possibly the NFL, could be a memorable experience.

Chris Nee: The process not concluding on the first Wednesday in February. The nation's top prospect, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, is expected to extend the process to mid-February. One of the best quarterbacks is still out there, Jacoby Brissett, and expected to go beyond Wednesday. It is the continuation of a trend of kids not making their decision on that first day of the signing period.

Keith Niebuhr: The 11-hour drama. Entering the homestretch, many of the country's top prospects remain uncommitted. That will make for an interesting, exciting and hectic finale to the 2011 recruiting cycle. The battle to finish No. 1 in the team rankings is wide open, which only adds to the suspense.

Brian Perroni: It could be remembered as much for who did not sign as who did. The nation's No. 1 player, Jadeveon Clowney, plans to wait a couple more weeks before making his decision. Rivals250 tight end Chris Barnett is likely to do the same. It has happened in the past with Seantrel Henderson and Bryce Brown, but Clowney could end up setting a precedent for future prospects that they don't have to sign on signing day, or even sign at all for that matter.

What do you think is the best recruiting sell for a school?

Barry Every: I'd have to say recent success and playing time are close at the top. All that other stuff is nice and can help, but kids want to play for a winner and make a difference as soon as possible. We live in a society that people want everything right now.

Mike Farrell: Recent success for sure. If you're not winning on the field consistently, it is that much harder to recruit off of it. There are exceptions to that rule of course, but overall I think that the one thing that makes recruiting easier than anything else is that number in the win column.

Adam Gorney: One thing appeals to nearly all players and that's the "promise" of getting on the field early. At least, the chance to play early. After playing consistently throughout their careers, the last thing high-profile prospects want to do heading into college is sit on the sidelines and wait their turn. Many recruits are thankful that they took a redshirt year to mature physically, but that's not what they want to hear while they're in high school.

Chris Nee: It is a combination of recent success and tradition of success. The average prospect wants to be part of a winning program, and in some cases, part of the return to being a winning program. The annual teams in competition for national championships don't encounter any difficulties getting into the front door of the nation's best high schools and the homes of the nation's best prospects.

Keith Niebuhr: For the elite prospects, I'd say, in order, a program's recent success, track record of getting players to the NFL, staff and facilities. The top players all want to play for winning teams - because that means their games will be seen by more fans. They also want to be at a place that develops them into professional players.

Brian Perroni: A winning program will sell itself. If a team is winning, it will be on TV more often and money will pour in for better facilities, etc. Distance from home would be a close second as players rarely venture outside of their region to go to school. USC couldn't hold on to Kent Turene and Texas Tech had the same problem with Marcus Roberson this year, as both Floridians likely will remain in the Southeast.



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