By Kevin Askeland
With just over a week until National Letter of Intent Day, colleges are busy signing recruits to help make up for the losses due to graduation and early entry into the NFL draft. Here’s a look at some of the players each of the top 25 teams in the final BCS rankings will have to replace and who they have signed to help fill in the gaps.
Out - The defending national champions got a big break when quarterback Tim Tebow decided to stay for his senior year. However the Gators lost several outstanding receivers, including Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy, both of considered among the top pass-catchers available in this year’s NFL draft. Tight end Cornelius Ingram is also gone along with offensive lineman Jason Watkins.
In – Coach Urban Meyer won’t have too much trouble restocking his receiving corps. He has two of the nation’s best in the fold in Andre DeBose of Seminole (Sanford, Fla.), and Nu’Keese Richardson of Pahokee (Fla.). The Gators also have a standout ready to go on the offensive line in Xavier Nixon of Britt (Fayetteville, N.C.). Nixon was the state player of the year in North Carolina as an offensive tackle.
Out - The Utes don’t lose much from their undefeated squad, but they do lose quarterback Brian Johnson. Two underclassmen have also applied for the NFL draft in defensive end Paul Kruger and cornerback Sean Smith
In - Jordan Wynn of Oceanside (Calif.) could eventually fill Johnson’s spot. The all-state QB led his team to a pair of section titles and one state championship. Siosaia Tuipulotu of Trinity (Euless, Texas), will help shore up the defensive line in the wake of Kruger’s absence. Tuipulotu was the Forth Worth area player of the year.
Out – The defense takes a big hit with huge losses at linebacker and the secondary. Linebackers Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing are both expected to go in the first round of the NFL draft with Clay Matthews also expecting to go high as well. Additionally, quarterback Mark Sanchez applied for the NFL draft and could be one of the top QBs chosen.
In – Coach Pete Carroll has done well to replace the defenders he will be losing. Besides landing one of the nation’s top linebackers in Centennial’s (Corona) Vontaze Burfict, Carroll also landed Dominguez (Compton) standout Marquis Simmons. Meanwhile, James Boyd of Los Angeles Jordan, who led the state in passing this year, will likely convert to a standup end. The secondary gets a boost from all-state picks Patrick Hall of St. Bonaventure (Ventura) and T.J. McDonald of Edison (Fresno). The Trojans have a long line of QBs waiting to replace Sanchez. Matt Barkley of Mater Dei (Santa Ana), last year’s Gatorade National Player of the Year, will join that list and will battle Mitch Mustain and Aaron Corp for playing time next year.
Out - The Longhorns return one of the top quarterbacks in the country in Colt McCoy, but he’ll miss one of his best protectors in offensive lineman Cedric Dockery. The Texas defensive line takes a hit with the loss of DE Brian Orakpo and DT Roy Miller. Linebacker Rashad Bobino is also gone.
In – The Longhorns found a good one to eventually replace McCoy. Garrett Gilbert of Lake Travis (Austin) swept every national player of the year award while leading his team to a 16-0 record and setting state passing records in Texas. Mack Brown also recruited two of the nation’s top linemen in All-Americans Thomas Ashcroft of Cedar Hill and Mason Walters of Frenship (Wolfforth). The defensive line will get help from Pflugerville DE Alex Okafor.
Out – Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford returns at quarterback, but most of his offensive line is gone. Phil Loadholt (T), Duke Robinson (G) and John Cooper (C) are all expected to be chosen in the NFL draft, leaving gaping holes in the Sooner front line. Oklahoma also loses standout strong safety Nick Harris and wide receiver Joaquin Iglesias.
In – So far, coach Bob Stoops has signed few offensive linemen to replace the holes left by graduation. Instead, the defense has been the focus of this year’s recruiting class with eight Lemming Top Players on the list. Leading the way is highly-coveted defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland of Lufkin (Texas) along with DE Justin Chiasson of Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.), LB Ronnell Lewis of Dewar (Okla.), DB Gabe Lynn of Jenks (Okla.) and LB Tom Wort of New Braunfels (Texas).
Out – While coach Nick Saban started a number of underclassmen this year, he’ll have to find a new quarterback and running back to replace John Parker Wilson and Glenn Coffee. He also needs to replace one of the nation’s top offensive tackles in Andre Smith, who could be one of the top five picks in this year’s NFL draft.
In - D.J. Fluker of Foley (Ala.) could eventually fill the spot left by Smith. Fluker was a MaxPreps All-American. Meanwhile Saban also has two highly-regarded recruits for the backfield in quarterback A.J. McCarron of St. Paul’s Episcopal (Mobile, Ala.) and running back Trent Richardson of Escambia (Pensacola, Fla.).
Out – Texas Christian loses a pair of outstanding defenders in linebacker Jason Phillips and safety Stephen Hodge. Both will likely have their name called at the NFL draft in April.
In – While the focus of most of the signings have been on defense, the No. 1 recruit for TCU is quarterback Casey Paschall of Brownwood (Texas).
8. Penn State
Out – The Nittany Lions will be hard-hit on defense, where they lose DE Aaron Maybin, LB Tyrell Sales and CB Lydell Sargeant. Maybin could be the top defensive end chosen in the the NFL draft.
In – Coach Joe Paterno doesn’t appear to have found anyone of Maybin’s caliber in this year’s recruiting class, but three defensive linemen among Lemming’s Top Players have committed to Penn State, including Eric Shrive of West Scranton, Sean Stanley of Gaithersburg and Mark Ariciacono.
9. Ohio State
Out - The Buckeyes took big hits on both sides of the ball after running back Chris Wells applied for the NFL draft. He leaves, along with QB Todd Boeckman, WR Brian Robiskie and T Alex Boone on offense and All-American linebacker James Laurinaitis and CB Malcolm Jenkins on defense.
In – Coach Jim Tressell recruited a strong group of linebackers, led by Gateway’s (Monroeville, Pa.) Dorian Bell and Trinity’s (Louisville, Ky.) Jordan Whiting. Both were members of the MaxPreps All-American team. Add in Ohio all-state standout Storm Klein and you have a strong unit for years to come. The Buckeyes still have last year’s National Player of the Year Terrelle Pryor at QB. He’ll get an additional target in St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) WR Duron Carter, the son of former Ohio State standout Chris Carter. Replacing Wells is another story. Jaamal Berry of Palmetto (Miami, Fla.) is the top RB who has committed to the Buckeyes.
Out – The Ducks lose a pair of gamebreakers on offense in RB Jeremiah Johnson and WR Jaison Williams. The secondary also takes a hit with the loss of FS Patrick Chung and CB Jarius Byrd. The offensive line will miss T Fenuki Tupou and C Max Unger.
In – The defensive secondary gets some worthy replacements in Lemming Top Player Cliff Harris of Edison (Fresno, Calif.) and all-state defensive back Avery Patterson of Pittsburg (Calif.). Cathedral Catholic (San Diego, Calif.) tackle Everett Benyard will help fill the void left by Tupou.
11. Boise State
Out – Ian Johnson became a legend at Boise State with his two-point conversion against Oklahoma as a sophomore. He is gone, along with WR Jeremy Childs.
In – The Broncos picked up one of the top receivers in the country in Kirby Moore, who set national receiving touchdown records at Prosser (Wash.). He joins his brother who was the starting quarterback for Boise State last year. Kellen Moore will have a worthy backup in San Ramon Valley (Danville, Calif.) QB Joe Southwick, who earned all-state honors in California. Another Bay Area standout, Charles Leno of San Leandro, will help solidify the offensive line, which lost starters Andrew Woodruff and Jon Gott.
12. Texas Tech
Out – Coach Mike Leach has a couple big holes to fill in QB Graham Harrell and All-American wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Both figure to go in the NFL draft with Crabtree expected to be the first receiver taken.
In - Jacob Karam of Friendswood is the top quarterback recruit for Tech while Aaron Fisher of Fossil Ridge (Keller) is the top receiving prospect.
Out – Few teams were hit as hard by graduation and early entry into the NFL draft than Georgia. Quarterback Matthew Stafford could be the No. 1 overall pick while RB Knowshon Moreno, FB Brannan Southerland, WR Mohamed Massquoi, DT Jeff Owens and LB Dannell Ellerbe all figure to be drafted.
In – Fortunately, the Bulldogs landed some of the country’s best talent to help fill in the gaps. Quarterback Aaron Murray of Plant (Tampa, Fla.) bounced back from a broken leg to lead his team to a state championship. Meanwhile Washaun Ealey of Emanuel County Institute (Twin City) finished his career as the state’s all-time leading touchdown scorer. Receiver Rantavious Wooten of Glades Central (Belle Glade, Fla.) was one of the top receivers in Southern Florida while DT Abry Jones was a MaxPreps All-American.
Out – Ole Miss lost a pair of outstanding linemen in Michael Oher and Maurice Miller, both of whom figure go be selected in the NFL draft. On defense, Peria Jerry (DT) will have to be replaced.
In - Tim Simon, a record-setting running back from Cordova (Ala.), is the top recruit for Ole Miss, but Emmanuel McCray, an all-state tackle from Forest Hill in Miss., will help fill the void at tackle.
15. Virginia Tech
Out – The Hokies lose part-time starting quarterback Sean Glennon, QB as well as potential draft pick Victor Harris at cornerback.
In – Tech has recruited four quarterbacks to find a replacement for Glennon, including all-purpose standout Logan Thomas of Brookville (Lynchburg, Va.). Thomas is expected to move to tight end, leaving the QB battle to Theron Norman of Hermitage (Richmond, Va.), Tyrell Edwards of Marlboro County (Bennettsville, S.C.) and Antone Exum of Deep Run (Glen Allen, Va.).
16. Oklahoma State
Out – The Cowboys retain outstanding WR Dez Bryant, QB Zac Robinson and leading rusher Kendall Hunter, but must replace blue chip tight end Brandon Pettigrew.
In – Coach Mike Gundy has landed some of Oklahoma’s best players, including state MVP Daytawion Lowe of Albert (Midwest City, Okla.) in the secondary and tackle Brandon Webb of Owasso. Jeremy Smith of Union (Tulsa, Okla.) adds depth to an already solid backfield. The Cowboys went to Texas for their quarterback recruits, landing Joe Mitchell of Morton Ranch (Katy, Texas) and Charlie Moore of Bullard (Texas).
Out – The Bearcats lose two of the best cornerbacks in the college ranks in DeAngelo Smith and Mike Mickens. Offensive guard Trevor Canfield will also have to be replaced along with DE Connor Barwin.
In – Cincinnati went heavy on local wide receivers, nabbing Maalik Bomar and Tristan Marvin of Winton Woods (Cincinnati), Jamar Howard of Withrow (Cincinnati) and Josh Jones of Elder (Cincinnati).
18. Oregon State
Out – The Beavers don’t lose a whole lot, but they will have to replace receiver Sammy Stroughter and guard Andy Levitre.
In - Michael Doctor of Washington (Tulsa, Okla.) was the Oklahoma state MVP at linebacker. Meanwhile Michael Philipp of Arroyo Valley (San Bernardino, Calif.) will help ease the loss of Levitre. The Beavers recruited a pair of all-state quarterbacks in Jack Lomax of Lake Oswego (Ore.), the Oregon 6A MVP, and Cody Vaz of St. Mary’s (Stockton, Calif.), a Division 2 all-state pick by MaxPreps.
Out – The bulk of Missouri’s high-powered offense is gone with the loss of QB Chase Daniel and WR Jeremy Maclin. The Tigers must also replace Ziggy Hood at defensive tackle and William Moore at free safety.
In – The Tigers signed three outstanding quarterbacks from the Midwest in Blaine Dalton of Blue Springs South (Blue Springs, Mo.), Ashton Glaser of Springdale (Ark.) and T.J. Moe of Fort Zumwalt West (O’Fallon, Mo.). Look for Dalton and Glaser to eventually battle for the QB spot with Moe moving over to defense. All-American Sheldon Richardson of Gateway Tech (St. Louis, Mo.) will help fill the void left by Hood.
Out – The Hawkeyes lose standout running back Shonn Greene to the NFL.
In – MaxPreps Medium School All-American MVP Brandon Wegher of Bishop Heelan Catholic (Sioux City, Iowa) could be just the right fit to replace Greene in the backfield.
21. Florida State
Out – The biggest loss for the Seminoles is defensive end Everette Brown.
In – Tallahassee had a wealth of outstanding defensive players this year and Bobby Bowden kept most of them at home, including defensive lineman Jacobbi McDaniel of Madison County (Madison, Fla.), Willie Downs of Godby (Tallahassee, Fla.) and Brandon Jenkins of Florida State University (Tallahassee, Fla.). All-state running backs Lonnie Pryor of Okeechobee and Chris Thompson of Madison County will add depth to that unit.
22. Georgia Tech
Out – The Yellowjackets will be hurting on the defensive line next year with the loss of Vance Walker, Darryl Richard and Michael Johnson.
In – Georgia Tech signed six defensive lineman, all from in-state, led by Flowery Branch all-state pick Izaan Cross. Julian Burnett of Westside (Macon, Ga.), a state MVP at linebacker, will help bolster the defensive unit for the Yellowjackets.
23. West Virginia
Out – With the graduation of four-year bowl winner Pat White, the Mountaineers will be looking for a new quarterback for the first time in four years. The loss of guards Ryan Stancheck and Greg Isdaner on the offensive line will also hurt.
In – West Virginia had an outstanding haul of talent in the skill positions, led by Maryland’s all-time leading scorer, Tavon Austin of Dunbar (Baltimore, Md.), and Florida standout quarterback Eugene Smith of Miramar. Logan Heastie of Great Bridge (Chesapeake, Va.) played quarterback this year, but will likely move to receiver. The Mountaineers also got a force in Virginia state defensive MVP Dominik Davenport of Phoebus.
24. Michigan State
Out – The backfield of Brian Hoyer (QB) and Javon Ringer (RB) will have to be replaced.
In – Lemming Top Player Edwin Baker of Oak Park (Mich.) could eventually take over Ringer’s spot in the backfield. Andrew Maxwell of Midland is the only quarterback recruit. The Spartans landed one of the nation’s best kickers in Kevin Muma of Troy.
25. Brigham Young
Out - Ray Feinga at guard is one of the few losses on offense for BYU. David Nixon and Kellen Fowler, two of the team’s top tacklers, are also gone.
In – A pair of recruits from Timpview could help fill the losses on the offensive line and in the secondary. Craig Bills is a Lemming Top Player at DB while Tui Crichton was an all-state selection at tackle.