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.

DeShone Kizer stays the same leader for new group of Notre Dame teammates

DeShone Kizer stays the same leader for new group of Notre Dame teammates

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A number of teammates took the field for the first time with DeShone Kizer during the cacophony of Sunday night’s atmosphere at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin. And much as Kizer did last year, he led the Irish offense with a certain kind of poise and mentality that deftly toes the line between confident and cocky. 

“When we were down by two touchdowns or when it was tied, he had the same demeanor,” sophomore receiver C.J. Sanders said. “That really speaks volumes about him as a man.”

Kizer wowed his teammates a year ago when he subbed in for the injured Malik Zaire and threw a game-winning touchdown to Will Fuller. It wasn’t just for the throw, but it was also for the way in which the quarterback conducted himself in a hostile, pressure-packed environment. 

Last year’s Irish offense, though, was loaded with leaders. Ronnie Stanley, Nick Martin and Chris Brown were pillars on that team, and there were veterans all around like Fuller, C.J. Prosise, Steve Elmer and Amir Carlisle. 

Notre Dame only returned a handful of upperclassmen who played on that 2015 team in Kizer, Torii Hunter Jr., Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson (running back Tarean Folston was injured in Week 1 against Texas, and tight end Durham Smythe missed the remainder of the regular season after an injury in Week 2). 

So that meant there was quite a bit of inexperience permeating Notre Dame’s offense Sunday night. But some of those greenhorns said Kizer’s composure and confidence helped them ease into a roaringly-intense evening. 

“When we were down, he brought us together and said we’re going to drive and score and come back,” sophomore receiver Equanimeous St. Brown said, adding that message from Kizer gave him and the rest of the Irish offense a confidence boost in the second half. 

“What young guys typically don’t understand when they go into that environment is that it’s not too much different from what you’re doing in practice,” Kizer said. “When you step in front of 100,000 people, there’s a lot of noise and that could definitely create some adrenaline. But other than that, we’re playing the same game that we’ve been playing all summer. 

“The plays have been made time and time again all offseason and just understanding that when they’re out there, they’re expected to make those same exact plays and all they have to do is do that and do that well. You don’t have to go out there and be someone else. We have a really good coaching staff who put you in good positions to make big plays and all you have to do is execute what they say.” 

Leadership is one of those nebulous things every football player and coach will tell you is necessary, but it’s a quality that’s impossible to quantify. It’s not an end-all, be-all for an offense or defense — Notre Dame, after all, didn’t score when it got the ball back after Jarron Jones’ miraculous blocked PAT, which probably had more to do with the loss of Hunter Jr. than anything else — but it is something that can be pointed to as an asset in close games. 

And with Kizer quarterbacking the offense, Notre Dame has to feel confident in its ability to hang in close games. It still needs its special teams, defense (which was primarily behind recent losses to Stanford and Texas) and coaching (behind the loss to Clemson) to come through, but the next time Notre Dame finds itself in a high-pressure, hostile situation, it can count on Kizer to keep things calm. 

And that counts for something, whatever the extent of it is. 

“Before the game he kind of talked to us, got in front of us and told us hey, I don’t care how young you are, I know you guys can make plays,” Sanders said. “So just hearing that from him developed a comfort level to know that he can depend on us. Hearing that from him really made a big difference.” 

Loyola excited for upcoming season, trip to Spain

Loyola excited for upcoming season, trip to Spain

Loyola didn't have the season they were hoping for in 2015-16 but they're optimistic that things can turn around for the upcoming season. Even though the Loyola roster is filled with newcomers, the Ramblers are hopeful that a summer trip to Spain can help give them a head start.

As part of the trip, Loyola will get 10 extra practices and four games against Spanish competition that will give the team some much-needed experience before practice officially begins in October.

Head coach Porter Moser is already happy about working with this group, which features some productive returnees and a lot of talented newcomers.

"We play four games over there. They get that feel of being coached in a game at this level with their teammates," Moser said. "So then when we start back up in October they have a sense of some of the things we're trying to teach, some of the things of what to expect. And I think that's such a big element."

On a team full of new players, it will be important for senior guard Milton Doyle to have a bounce-back year for Loyola after a disappointing junior campaign. A former star at Marshall, Doyle saw his shooting percentages dip last season as the Loyola coaching staff challenged him to improve for his final season of college basketball. 

Moser is happy with the strides that Doyle has made this summer as he's added over 10 pounds of muscle to now play at 192 pounds. Also committed on the defensive end of the floor and being a team leader, Doyle is the Ramblers' only senior this season, so he'll be counted on to be a productive presence.

"It's a lot this year just because we had four seniors leave last year and I'm the last senior," Doyle said. "So it's my job to make sure everyone stays on track and everyone is uplifted, even when coaches get on them. That's my job right now."

Junior wing Donte Ingram — a former Simeon product — and junior guard Ben Richardson also return as key contributors from last year's team while Iowa State transfer guard Clayton Custer is expected to come in and be a major factor in the team's backcourt rotation.

As for the newcomers, Moser compared juco transfer forward Aundre Jackson favorably to former Loyola forward Christian Thomas while Vlatko Granic gives the team a stretch option at forward that they didn't have in the past. The team's freshmen are also very talented as guard Matt Chastain has shown solid athleticism and a good basketball IQ through some early practices. 

Another freshman guard, Cameron Satterwhite, is coming off of a torn ACL that cost him his senior season, but the Loyola staff is optimistic about his recovery for this season. Croatian freshman guard Bruno Skokna is also recovering from injury as he has played against professionals in Europe the last few seasons on an amateur contract. He is expected to be cleared soon so that he can return to action this season.

"I love this group because it's a group full of gym rats. This is a really enthusiastic group," Moser said. "They've come together, we've got a lot of newcomers. That's the benefit, that's why we did the Spain trip this summer."

Loyola takes its trip to Spain from Aug. 12-22 as they'll hit cities like Barcelona and Madrid during the trip.