Watching high school football closely since 1978, CBS/MaxPreps recruiting analyst Tom Lemming tabs George Smith of
St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
as the No. 1 coach he has observed over the years.
Now retired from his coaching duties, the Purdue University graduate compiled a 361-66 record over 34 years. He won six state and two national championships and had three undefeated seasons.
Lemming noted, "For a long time in the most dominating state for football, he had the most dominating team. There is no better competition in the country and he almost always was in the national title picture. Kids wanted to move into his area and they recruited him because of his success. The key was that he really did a great job helping his kids get scholarships. With me he was always up front - an honest guy."
Gerry Faust started the program at Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati) and had a dominant program without a home field. He compiled a 178-23-2 record with five state and four national championships. Seven of his teams were unbeaten. That success enabled him to make the unprecedented jump to head coach at the University of Notre Dame.
"In a shorter period of time, he probably was the most successful coach in history," Lemming feels. "I visited him before I started my magazine in 1978. He opened his door. I was a young kid (age 22) and wasn't much older than the kids I was interviewing. He was very helpful, a great guy and national figure. He was exceptional getting kids into college. He was the first to start a national schedule and was the pioneer for national travel. He would beat every top team in Ohio, then look at other states. He had the first super power."
Greg Toal has begun to dominate the national scene in recent years. Toal has won 252 games during his career at four high schools in New Jersey, but his greatest success has been at Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.), where he has a dominating 126-10 record. His 2009 team won the national championship and it again is on top of all national polls at this point in the season.
"He's a modern guy and North Jersey has great competition," Lemming pointed out. "He's able to recruit and build his program up enough (to compete nationally). They killed St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) and that was a shock to me. He's a great coach."
Bob Ladouceur once led De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) to an incredible national-record 151-game winning streak. Taking the reins at a school which never previously had a winning season, Ladouceur has compiled a sparkling 377-25-3 record since 1979. He has captured 15 state and seven national championships while being named Coach of the Year three times.
Lemming noted, "There's not that much talent in his area (Northern California), but he always seems to get material that best fits his system. They buy into it and all they do is win. There was always a question about his competition, but he proved that they were special by going to L.A. and out of state (to beat nationally ranked teams). More so than anyone else, he does it on coaching ability."
The final position goes to Bruce Rollinson of Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.). He is in his 22nd year as head coach, but he is a Mater Dei graduate and was an assistant there, giving him 35 years with the school. He has won more than 200 games, one state title and two national championships.
"He's as consistent as they come," Lemming said. "And he plays against great competition. The whole L.A. area has produced many NFL players. He's well known for producing great quarterbacks (Matt Leinert and Matt Barkley) and just overall talent. Every year Mater Dei has somebody (a top player).
OTHER LEMMING NOTES
* "This week's Alabama/LSU game will be big for recruiting with a lot of top stars in the south (attending). It will be for bragging rights and very big."
* Told that Devon Dwyer of Oviedo (Fla.) had made an amazing 27 solo tackles in a recent game, Lemming replied, "I haven't seen 27 solo tackles - ever."
* Special guest on this Friday's Lemming Report (7 p.m., EST) on the CBS College Sports Network will be Nigerian-born Faith Ekakitie, a 6-foot-2, 280-pound senior who plays defensive end and tackle for Lake Forest Academy (Lake Forest, Ill.). He had 15 sacks as a junior and can bench press 360 pounds.
Lemming described him as "a thick-bodied kid, quick-footed and dynamic. He's very quick, which makes him a good pass rusher. He's one of the most dominating linemen in the country."
* He also will show videos of and discuss his Top 10 defensive backs. Seven of them are from the southern part of the country, which annually produces players with great speed.