Alabama, Texas top recruiting class rankings

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Alabama, Texas top recruiting class rankings

Alabama's Nick Saban and Texas' Mack Brown are widely recognized as two of the slickest and most successful recruiters in college football. So it isn't surprising to see Alabama and Texas at the top of the 2012 recruiting derby.

"Nick Saban and (Ohio State's) Urban Meyer are the two best recruiters in the nation," recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network said. "Saban has a better resume than anyone else...three national championships, two at Alabama, one at LSU.

"He went out to recruit on the day after beating LSU for the national title. He takes it as a personal affront if he loses a kid to another national power. He put Alabama over the top (in this year's recruiting sweepstakes) by getting commitments from three top 100 players, all within a couple of days, a big coup."

Saban goes wherever five-star athletes take him. Last week, he showed off the Alabama campus and Crimson Tide facilities to offensive tackle Kyle Bosch of Wheaton St. Francis, one of Illinois' top-rated prospects in the class of 2013.

At Texas, Brown has the advantage of recruiting in the most fertile region for producing football talent in the country. And while he competes against virtually every major program, he dominates. This is the fifth time in the last seven years that he has signed a top three class.

What about Notre Dame? The Irish finished No. 17 in Lemming's ratings. Coach Brian Kelly got QB Gunner Kiel, the No. 2 player in the nation, and might get DB Anthony Standifer of Crete-Monee, who de-committed from Michigan. But Kelly lost every one of his top 10 choices, including multi-talented Ron Darby to Florida State. And he didn't get the left tackle he so desperately coveted.

Who will make the biggest impact in the next two or three years?

Lemming predicts Missouri-bound WR Dorial Green-Beckham, the nation's No. 1 player, will be better than former Alabama star Julio Jones, that he will be the next Randy Moss.

Lemming also predicts that Ohio State-bound DL Noah Spence, Florida State-bound DL Mario Edwards, California-bound RBDB Shaq Thompson, Texas-bound RB Jonathan Gray, Pittsburgh-bound RB Rushel Shell, uncommitted WR Stefon Diggs and USC-bound WRKR Nelson Agholor will be impact players as freshmen.

And Lemming predicts that if Oklahoma State-bound quarterback Wes Lunt of Rochester, Ill., stays healthy, he will be a Heisman Trophy candidate.

Here are the nation's top 10 recruiting classes:

1. ALABAMA: Coach Nick Saban was assured of the No. 1 ranking when he landed DB Landon Collins, RB T.J. Yeldon and WR Cyrus Jones at the last minute. He also signed 10 other top 150 players, including CB Geno Smith, DB Chris Black, DB Eddie Williams and LB Reggie Ragland. But observers noted that Saban didn't land a quarterback to fill out his talented class.

2. TEXAS: Brown signed 10 players among the top 150 in the nation, including the best running back in Jonathan Gray. Other standouts are WR Cayleb Jones, DT Malcolm Brown, QB Connor Brewer and OL Kennedy Estelle. He also welcomed DL Toshiro Davis, who de-committed from LSU.
3. OHIO STATE: If Urban Meyer's first class is any indication of future success, the Big 10 better batten down the hatches. He signed four top 100 players -- DL Noah Spence, DL Tommy Schutt of Glenbard West, DE Adolphus Washington, DL Se'Von Pittman and RB Brionte Dunn. He also got CB Armani Reeves from Penn State and OL Taylor Decker from Notre Dame.

4. MICHIGAN: New coach Brady Hoke has old-timers cheering again. He landed four top 100 players -- DE Chris Wormley, DB Terry Richardson, OL Erik Magnuson and OL Kyle Kalis. Wormley was the defensive player of the year in Ohio. DT Ondre Pipkins is another standout. He could get OL Jordan Diamond of Simeon, who will announce his decision on Friday.

5. FLORIDA: New coach Will Muschamp signed five top 100 players -- OL D.J Humphries, TE Kent Taylor, OL Jerraman Dunbar, LB Antonio Morrison of Bolingbrook, DE Jonathan Bullard and RB Matt Jones. Two others to watch are TE Colin Thompson and CB Brian Poole. Muschamp still is in the running for WR Stefon Diggs.

6. MIAMI: Coach Al Golden signed only two top 100 players, DB Deon Bush and CB Tracy Howard, but the Hurricane cleaned up in south Florida. Howard is rated as the best cornerback in the class of 2012 according to one recruiting service. RB Duke Johnson is another standout.

7. FLORIDA STATE: Coach Jimbo Fisher could argue that his class is the best in the nation. He got five top 100 players -- DL Mario Edwards, OL Eddie Goldman, QB Jameis Winston, WR Ronald Darby and RB Mario Pender. Another standout is DL Chris Casher.

8. OKLAHOMA: Coach Bob Stoops signed 23 players, including five wide receivers and four tight ends. He is high on Courtney Gardner and Sam Grant, two late commitments. He also has two top 100 pass catchers -- Durron Neal and Taylor McNamara -- and five signees in the top 150.

9. USC: What could coach Lane Kiffin have accomplished if he had been able to recruit a full class instead of just 15? He signed OL Zach Banner, WR Nelson Agholor, DL Leonard Williams, OL Jordan Simmons and OL Max Tuerk. "Quality, not quantity," Kiffin said.

10. STANFORD: Coach David Shaw lured OL Andrus Peat and OL Kyle Murphy away from USC and also signed OL Joshua Garnett, OL Graham Shuler, OL Nick Davidson, OL Johnny Caspers of Glenbard West and RB Barry Sanders, son of the NFL Hall of Famer.
The next 15: Georgia, Clemson, LSU, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Auburn, Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA, Missouri, Texas Tech, Tennessee, California, TCU, Rutgers.

High School coaches 'leave no stone unturned' in helping players explore next level

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Photo at top: Loyola Academy assistant coach Paul Pryma extends his hand toward a Steinmetz High School player during pregame introductions on Feb. 21. (Andres Waters/MEDILL)

High School coaches 'leave no stone unturned' in helping players explore next level

By Andres Waters
Special Contributor to CSNChicago.com

After Loyola Academy held off rival New Trier 43-40 to win the 2017 Zion-Benton regional championship, Ramblers head coach Tom Livatino had a special message for his players.

"That's the best celebration that I have ever been a part of," Livatino said. "Because everybody was completely about love. You guys love each other and we all can tell. I'm really, really proud just to be one of our coaches."

While the speech was a powerful way for Livatino to tell the players of his appreciation, he and other high school coaches engage in something much bigger to show players how proud they are: college recruiting.

In addition to time spent planning and practicing, coaches also sacrifice countless hours each week helping their players find opportunities to play at the next level.

"It's a really long part of the process, but to be honest, it's a part of the job that I absolutely love," Livatino said. "We demand so much of our players in every aspect. And, from a basketball standpoint, the least I could do is everything in my power to help them out."

Less than 48 hours after the Ramblers completed their season with a loss to Evanston Township in the Waukegan Sectional semifinal, Livatino was back in his office holding individual meetings with each player.

Starting with the 10 departing seniors, Livatino discussed the factors that go into choosing a college for high school athletes.

His conversations with the two players who already committed, senior guards Ramar Evans and Matt Lynch, focused on how they felt about their next steps. With the others, Livatino asked whether they wanted to play at the next level and, if so, which schools they wanted to attend that shared an interest in them. The conversations held with the Ramblers' juniors are very similar.

"I wasn't just looking for basketball, I was looking for a fit academically and socially," said Lynch, who committed to Division III St. Norbert College. "[Livatino] said St. Norbert would be the best fit for me. It fit everything I was looking for."

Read the full story at Medill Reports Chicago.

CSN Chicago, in partnership with Northwestern University,  features journalism by students in the graduate program at Medill School of Journalism. The students are reporters for Medill News Service. Medill faculty members edit the student work. Click here for more information about Medill.

From dunks to deliveries: Former No. 1 pick LaRue Martin's unlikely success story

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Photo at top: La Rue Martin poses for a photo at a National Basketball Retired Players Association event. (Photo courtesy of La Rue Martin)

From dunks to deliveries: Former No. 1 pick LaRue Martin's unlikely success story

By Elan Kane
Special Contributor to CSNChicago.com

LaRue Martin Jr. thought his future was set. The Portland Trail Blazers had drafted him No. 1 overall in the 1972 NBA draft. Money and fame awaited.

Fifteen years later, he started work as a UPS driver, struggling to find uniform pants that fit his 6-foot-11 frame.

"There is life after sports," Martin said. "Period."

It's been 45 years since the draft and Martin, a former Loyola University star, is now the UPS Illinois district public affairs and community services manager. He is labeled by many as one of the biggest busts in NBA draft history, but he is fine with that designation.

"I don't believe in saying anything negative, you have no control over that," Martin said. "I took care of my family, did what I had to do and I'm the type of person I can't dwell off the negatives. I can't. I kept my head up high and moved onto a positive mode of life and it has treated me very well."

Martin averaged 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in 14 minutes per game in just four seasons with the Trail Blazers. He blames his low numbers on his lack of playing time, but many believe he was just not good enough.

"He didn't get playing time because he [stunk]," said Boston Globe sports columnist Bob Ryan, who has covered the NBA for decades. "[Former No. 1 overall draft pick Michael] Olowokandi didn't do much but I think he did more than that."

Martin is used to the criticism.

"As a young man, reading the papers all the time, that bothered me, I must admit that," Martin said. "But I hold my head up high now because I've been very successful in the corporate world."

Read the full story at Medill Reports Chicago.

CSN Chicago, in partnership with Northwestern University,  features journalism by students in the graduate program at Medill School of Journalism. The students are reporters for Medill News Service. Medill faculty members edit the student work. Click here for more information about Medill.