Alabama and Texas meet at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena tonight with the winner to be crowned the No. 1 team in all of college football.
In less than a month after tonight’s BCS championship game, both Alabama and Texas will be in the spotlight again when National Signing Day takes center stage. The Crimson Tide and the Longhorns rank among the top two teams in the country when it comes to signing classes for 2010, depending on which ranking service you believe, and could thus make the BCS championship matchup a regular yearly get-together.
However, with the wealth of talent signing on the dotted line to attend their chosen university, there are also a certain number of talented seniors who will graduate and make way for the next generation. Following is a look at how graduation will affect each of the 10 BCS teams (along with a couple of extra teams thrown in for the heck of it) and what those teams are doing in the recruiting process to replace the losses.
BCS Championship – Texas vs. Alabama
The Longhorns have one of the toughest players to replace in all of college football this side of Gainesville with the graduation of Colt McCoy. Thank God he has a younger brother.
While 2008 MaxPreps All-American Garrett Gilbert is next on the depth chart behind McCoy, the winningest quarterback in NCAA history, the Longhorns have verbal commitments from two of the best quarterbacks in Texas, including McCoy’s younger brother Case, an all-state quarterback at Graham. The Longhorns also have Connor Wood out of Second Baptist (Houston) to give coach Mack Brown a wealth of talent at the position.
McCoy is one of five seniors on the starting offensive unit. Also graduating are All-American receiver Jordan Shipley along with offensive linemen Adam Ulatoski (T), Charlie Tanner (G) and Chris Hall (C). While the Longhorns have 22 verbal commitments so far, only two of them are linemen – Dominic Espinosa, a center from Cedar Park, and Trey Hopkins, a guard from North Shore (Galena Park).
Texas has scored a coup at wide receiver, however, landing two of the state’s best in Darius White of Dunbar (Fort Worth) and Mike Davis of Skyline (Dallas). Demarco Cobbs of Tulsa Central (Okla.) was the state player of the year and could find a place on offense at receiver or on defense in the secondary.
The Longhorns don’t lose any running backs but they did pick up one of the all-time leading rushers in Texas history in small school standout Traylon Shead. The Class 1A player of the year, Shead rushed for 10,292 career yards at Cayuga to finish second on the Texas all-time list. He is the all-time leading scorer in the state with 146 touchdowns. The Longhorns lose just three starters on defense in defensive end Sergio Kindle, tackle Lamarr Houston and linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy. Once again Brown has found some standouts to fill the void.
Defensive end Reggie Wilson of Halton was the Fort Worth-area defensive player of the year while Taylor Bible, a defensive tackle out of Denton Guyer, earned all-state honors. Texas has several strong linebacker candidates in Aaron Benson of Cedar Hill and Tevin Jackson of Garland.
Of the 10 BCS schools, Alabama has the second-highest total of senior starters, 11, behind Cincinnati, which had 15. However, coach Nick Saban had the nation’s top recruiting class last year and has another outstanding class this year to help make up for those lost seniors.
The Tide lose a pair of starters in the secondary in cornerback Javier Arenas and safety Justin Woodall, but Saban has possibly the best trio of defensive back recruits in the country in Keenan Allen of North Guilford (N.C.), Demarcus Milliner of Millbrook (Ala.) and Nick Perry of Prattville (Ala.).
With All-American Julio Jones back for his junior season, Alabama adds to the receiving corps with Keiwone Malone, an all-state pick from Mitchell (Memphis, Tenn.), DeAndrew White of North Shore (Galena Park, Texas) and tight end Brian Vogler of Brookstone (Columbus, Ga.).
When it comes to quarterbacks, Saban will eventually have his choice of a pair of Sims – Blake from Gainesville (Ga.) and Phillip from Oscar Smith (Chesapeake, Va.). Blake Sims was the AAA state MVP in Georgia while Phillip Sims was the state MVP and all-time leading passer in Virginia.
Saban does lose a number of talented players on the defensive line in All-American Terrence Cody at nose tackle, and Brandon Deaderick and Lorenzo Washington at defensive end. The Tide’s top recruits at those positions include Alfy Hill of West Brunswick (Shallotte, N.C.) and Wilson Love of Mountain Brook (Birmingham, Ala.).
The Tide also lose two senior linebackers in Cory Reamer and Eryk Anders, however, to date they do not have a single linebacker among the 23 players who have made a verbal commitment.
Rose Bowl – Ohio State vs. Oregon
The Buckeyes ended some bowl game misery with the 26-17 win over Oregon. Ohio State had not won a bowl game the past three seasons, but it received an impressive performance from quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who had 266 yards passing with two touchdowns and 72 yards rushing on 20 carries. The good news for Buckeye fans is that most of the offense returns next year with Jake Ballard (TE) and Jim Cordle (T) the only seniors on the starting unit. Coach Jim Tressell already has a solid recruit ready to fill in the depth chart at tackle in the form of Andrew Norwell, an all-state player out of Anderson (Cincinnati).
The defense takes a few hits, especially in the secondary where Anderson Russell and Kurt Coleman are both seniors. Austin Spitler, a linebacker, is also a senior. The Buckeyes have landed St. Ignatius standout linebacker Scott McVey to fill that void. McVey was a state MVP as a junior.
So far the Ohio State recruiting effort has focused on offense with the major commitments coming at the skill positions. Athletic Corey Brown of Cardinal O’Hara (Springfield, Pa.) and Roderick Smith of Harding (Fort Wayne, Ind.) will join a backfield that included four freshmen, a sophomore and a junior on the depth chart during the 2009 season.
The good news for the Ducks is that they lose only three seniors from a team that went 10-3 and won the Pac-10 title. Oregon loses tight end Ed Dickson and defensive linemen Will Tukuafu and Blake Ferras to graduation. The Ducks bring in one of the top tight end prospects in the country in Curtis White of Sheldon (Eugene).
The Ducks return all five starters on the offensive line but bring in a pair of good ones in Nick Rowland of Centennial (Peoria, Ariz.) and Hroniss Grasu of Crespi (Encino, Calif.). Grasu’s teammate, Brian Bennett, is the top quarterback recruit for Oregon.
The Ducks also have plenty of depth at running back and linebacker, but have added in that department as well with Dontae Williams, a running back from Aldine (Houston, Texas) and Chris McCain, a linebacker from North Guilford (Greensboro, N.C.).
Sugar Bowl – Florida vs. Cincinnati
The Gators have a couple of huge holes to fill next year on both sides of the ball. Besides losing one of the all-time great college players in Tim Tebow at quarterback, Florida must also replace senior receivers Riley Cooper and David Nelson.
On the defensive side of the ball, Ryan Stamper and Brandon Spikes are both senior linebackers while Jermaine Cunningham is a senior defensive end.
The Gators have some solid backups at quarterback in one-time Gatorade National Player of the Year John Brantley and freshman Jordan Reed. The Gators have also signed Trey Burton, a multiple-threat quarterback out of Venice. The Gators also have several solid receiver recruits in Chris Dunkley of Pahokee, Solmon Patton of Murphy (Mobile, Ala.) and Quinton Dunbar of Booker T. Washington (Miami).
Gideon Ajagbe of Ransom Everglades (Coconut Grove) is the only linebacker recruit so far, but the Gators have received commitments from a solid group of players on defense including linemen Neiron Ball of Jackson (Ga.), Dominique Easley of Curtis (Staten Island, N.Y.) and defensive backs Cody Riggs of Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale), Joshua Shaw of Palmdale (Calif.), Jordan Haden of Friendly (Fort Washington, Md.) and Demar Dorsey of Boyd Anderson (Lauderdale Lakes).
No BCS team takes a bigger hit from graduation than the Bearcats, who lose 15 seniors, not to mention their head coach Brian Kelly to Notre Dame. The defense loses seven starters while the offense loses eight, including the entire receiving corps.
So far the recruiting process has filled in a number of the holes on defense. Hometown heroes Preston Brown of Northwest (Cincinnati) and Solomon Tentman of Roger Bacon (Cincinnati) will help replace seniors Andre Revels and Corey Smith at linebacker while Tre Boston of North Fort Myers (Fla.) and Arryn Chenault of Fairfield (Ohio) will help ease the loss of cornerback Mike Mickens and safety Cedric Tolbert.
The Bearcats have only a couple of receiving recruits who will try to replace the crew of Mardy Gilyard, Dominick Goodman and Marcus Bennett. Jorian Hudson of Roger Bacon (Cincinnati) is an athlete who could fill a receiver spot while tight end candidate Brad Harrah of Pleasant (Marion) will help out immediately at that spot since the Bearcats had three seniors on the depth chart at that position.
Orange Bowl – Iowa vs. Georgia Tech
The Hawkeyes lose seven starters from a team that defeated Georgia Tech 24-14 in the Orange Bowl. Recruiting has gone well so far at Iowa as coach Kirk Ferentz has 19 verbal commitments and should easily be able to replenish the depth hurt by the seven graduating seniors.
Iowa loses Tony Moeaki at tight end but picked up one of the nation’s best prospects in C.J. Fiedorowicz of Johnsburg (Ill.). The Hawkeyes also scored high at offensive tackle where prized recruit Andrew Donnal of Wayne (Whitehouse, Ohio) will help ease the loss of tackle Kyle Calloway.
The Hawkeyes don’t lose a single player on the depth chart in the offensive backfield, but they picked up one of the top running back recruits on the East Coast in DeMatha running back Marcus Coker.
Other recruits to watch include athlete A.J. Derby of Iowa City linebacker Jim Poggi and defensive tackle Anthony Ferguson from Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) and Austin Gray of Fitzgerald (Warren, Mich.).
The Yellowjackets need to replace only three starters from this year’s Orange Bowl team, including a pair of offensive linemen in tackle Brad Sellers and guard Cord Howard. Georgia Tech has stayed instate to fill those spots with Catlin Alford of Adairsville and Morgan Bailey of Loganville.
The ‘Jackets also need to replace senior linebacker Sedric Griffin. That could end up being Lakeland’s Quayshawn Nealy out of Florida who is the only linebacker commit out of Georgia Tech’s 13 verbals thus far.
The rest of the commitments focus mainly on the defensive backfield and the defensive line. Ryan Ayers of South Paulding (Douglasville) and of Jefferson County (Louisville) are the top secondary recruits while Anthony Williams of Union Grove (McDonough), Denzel McCoy of Northview (Duluth) and Shawn Green of Grayson (Loganville) make up the defensive line commits.
Fiesta Bowl – Boise State vs. TCU
The bad news for the Broncos is that they only have six players who have committed to play at Boise State next year. The good news is that coach Chris Peterson doesn’t have many holes to fill. Of the top 51 players on the Boise State depth chart, only three are seniors – cornerbacks Kyle Wilson and Garcia Day and fullback Richie Brockel. Wilson and Brockel are the only starters.
Most of Boise State’s commitments are at the skill positions. The Broncos got one of the top quarterbacks in Oregon in Central’s Grant Hedrick (Independence, Ore.) and they also landed arguably the top player in Montana in receiver Matt Miller from Capital (Helena, Mont.). Peterson also received a commitment from receiver Troy Ware from Vista (Calif.).
The Horned Frogs don’t quite have the same problem as the Broncos when it comes to returning starters, but coach Gary Patterson does return a total of 15 starters next year. The defense takes the biggest hit from graduation with seniors Nick Sanders and Rafael Priest gone from the secondary and defensive end Jerry Hughes and linebacker Daryl Washington also completing their senior seasons. Meanwhile, the offense needs to replace running back Joseph Turner, receiver Ryan Christian and tackle Marshall Newhouse.
Patterson has been able to stay in-state to find most of the talent to replace his graduated seniors. On defense, he has linebacker Marcus Mallett of Cleveland (Texas) and safety Jonathan Anderson of Carroll (Corpus Christi). He also has a wealth of talent coming in on offense in running back Josh Huff of Nimitz (Aldine) and Travaras Battle Smith of John Jay (San Antonio). Patterson has also gone out of state to land a pair of gems in athlete Curtis Carter of North De Soto (Stonewall, La.) and running back Ethan Grant of North Broward (Coconut Creek, Fla.).
Two more for the heck of it
New head coach Brian Kelly could have his hands full when it comes to filling in the holes left by the graduating seniors and the attrition of a few key juniors. Nearly the entire offensive line is gone as Paul Duncan (T), Sam Young (T), Chris Stewart (G) and Eric Olsen (C ) are all seniors. So far Christian Lombard of Fremd (Ill.) is the only major recruit the Fighting Irish have landed on the line. That could all change if MaxPreps All-American Seantrel Henderson of Cretin-Derham Hall (Minn.) chooses Notre Dame. So far the 6-foot-8, 310-pound guard is undecided.
Then there is the matter of quarterback Jimmy Clausen and wide receiver Golden Tate. Both have announced their decision to apply for the NFL draft despite having another year of eligibility. Clausen’s backup, Evan Shipley, is a senior, leaving the potential quarterback duties to sophomore Dayne Crist (Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, Calif.), or junior Brian Castello (Chartiers Valley of Pittsburgh, Pa.). The top quarterback recruit so far is Andrew Hendrix out of Moeller (Cincinnati, Ohio).
The Irish have addressed the defensive side of the ball, landing tackles Luis Nix of Raines (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Justin Utupo, the Los Angeles Times Defensive Player of the Year, out of Lakewood, Calif. Blake Lueders from Zionsville, Ind., Kendall Moore of Southeast Raleigh, N.C., and Prince Shembo of Ardrey Kell, Charlotte, N.C., give Notre Dame some depth at those positions.
As for replacing Tate at receiver, Kelly will have a pair of talented receivers to help out in Tai-ler Jones of Gainesville, Ga., and Austin Collinsworth of Highlands, Ky. Both earned all-state honors this year.
The Trojans always grab their share of five-star athletes, and this year doesn’t appear to be any different. However while the Trojans lose depth along the offensive line and defensive backfield, the majority of Southern Cal’s verbal commitments have come from players at the skill positions.
On the offensive line, Charles Brown (T), Nick Howell (G) and Jeff Byers (G) are all seniors. So far the Trojans don’t have a significant big-name recruit to help fill in the void there other than St. Bonaventure’s Gio DiPoalo.
Likewise in the secondary, Taylor Mays (S), Will Harris (S), Kevin Thomas (CB) and Josh Pinkard (CB) are all seniors. The only major recruit who has secondary experience is Robert Woods of Serra (Gardena); however, he will more than likely see action at wide receiver.
Along with Woods, Pete Carroll has managed to land a talented crew of receivers. Kyle Prater of Proviso West (Ill.), like Woods, is a MaxPreps All-American while tight end Xavier Grimble of Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) is similarly honored.
The Trojans also nabbed tight end Randall Telfer of Rancho Cucamonga, and then there is multi-talented Dillon Baxter of Mission Bay, who could play a number of different positions for the Trojans.
The Trojans do lose senior tight end Antony McCoy, but the rest of the receiving corps returns intact next year.