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February 17, 2012

Roundtable: Reaction to 2013 rankings

MORE ROUNDTABLES: Feb. 5

Rivals.com football recruiting analysts weigh in on topics in a roundtable format.

What program is off to an impressive start for the 2013 class in your opinion?

Mike Farrell: I would say Ohio State and Alabama, both have three of the top 45 prospects in the country already committed and are off to an incredible start. Alabama looks like a very good bet to win yet another recruiting title even though we are 11 months from National Signing Day and Ohio State is reaching new heights with Urban Meyer.

Adam Gorney: Alabama has one five-star commit and six four-stars but I'm going with Ohio State here because first-year coach Urban Meyer has changed the culture there. It's really no surprise because Meyer has been a fantastic recruiter in his coaching career but he's landing some heavyweights before even coaching a game in Columbus. The Buckeyes have landed three of the top players in the state of Ohio including five-star defensive back Cameron Burrows already and added four-star standout Eli Woodard out of New Jersey in recent days. The rest of the Big Ten better buck up because Meyer isn't going to stop anytime soon.

Josh Helmholdt: Urban Meyer has taken the momentum he generated with the 2012 class and carried it right over to 2013, grabbing commitments from four of the top 130 prospects in the country and three of the top 41, including five-star cornerback Cameron Burrows. So far he is using the plan that has made Ohio State a recruiting success for much of the past decade - dominate in-state recruiting and cherry pick some of the best prospects nationally.

Chris Nee: Alabama is doing what a team coming off a national championship should do. It is hand-picking the prospects it wants and locking up a stellar class early on. Linebacker Reuben Foster is the crown jewel of the class but not a single commitment is a guy that you wouldn't expect to be a major contributor down the road. Also, the Crimson Tide went out of state to get top players from Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Arkansas already.

Keith Niebuhr: This one is easy. It's Alabama. The Tide already have seven commits and each is in the Rivals250. That's just unreal. But at this point it probably should be expected. A couple others that have done real well that stand out are LSU and Texas A&M.

Brian Perroni: It is hard not to go with Alabama. The Crimson Tide already have seven early commitments, all of which are in the Rivals250. Getting a player such as Raheem Falkins out of LSU's backyard is huge and Altee Tenpenny has a chance to challenge as the top back in the country if he can come back healthy next year.

What's been the most common theme among the comments you've heard since the 2013 rankings were released last week?

Mike Farrell: Is this the best year for quarterbacks in a long time? I get that question a lot and while it's still early I think it could be. We have more in the Rivlas250 than I can remember and a lot of them have a chance to finish in the top 100. Last year we had two five-star quarterbacks and this year we already have two in February, so I think this could be a very strong year.

Adam Gorney: It's interesting because there is a chance the Nos. 1 and 2 players in the country could end up at Alabama even though they're both from Georgia. LaGrange (Ga.) Troup linebacker Reuben Foster is already committed to the Crimson Tide and Alabama is after the nation's No. 1 player, Loganville (Ga.) Grayson defensive end Robert Nkemdiche. What will also be interesting to see is if Nkemdiche and Foster stay in those first two slots. There will be many top prospects pushing them and just because they're ranked so high early on doesn't guarantee anything by next National Signing Day.

Josh Helmholdt: Everyone is impressed with the depth of talent in the Midwest for 2012. After a couple lean years in the region, including a 2012 class that finished with just seven prospects ranked among the top 100, the Midwest is back in 2013 boasting elite, national talent and depth of talent. The state of Ohio has 20 prospects already rated four-stars and the states of Illinois and Indiana both made strong debuts in the initial Rivals250 release. Also watch out for Wisconsin and Iowa. The states only have two four-stars between them now, but both have better than average classes emerging and could feature more by the time the final rankings are released.

Chris Nee: I've been asked a lot about the depth of the 2013 running back class coming out of the Sunshine State. It is a group easily capable of producing BCS-level running backs into the teens. The top of the group is stellar led by prospects such as Greg Bryant, Ryan Green, Kelvin Taylor, Alex Collins, A.J. Turman and Tarean Folston. Then outside the 250 you have Fred Coppet, Jamari Smith, Adam Lane, Lorenzo Woodley, Daryl Chestnut, Marcus Levy and Matt Dayes, who will have a number of major offers. That list is just the start. That isn't including Derrick Henry, who is considered an athlete by Rivals, but says he fully intends to remain a running back in college.

Keith Niebuhr: There has been a ton of debate about the running backs, and who belongs where. This class is loaded at that position, and everyone has an opinion on where their favorite should be ranked. The spring evaluation period will be the first big step to sorting it all out.

Brian Perroni: It seems the state of Louisiana is a lot stronger this year than in the class of 2012. There are only two prospects from the Pelican State in the Rivals100, although there are likely to be more next time around. In addition, two other players from the state earned four-star status outside the Rivals250.

Who do you envision making the biggest move up the rankings by the next time they are released?

Mike Farrell: That's always tough to predict because it's essentially trying to predict the future and how some of these guys will do at upcoming camps. Caleb Brantley, the Florida commitment, could be a guy who is a bit undervalued right now so we'll see about him. John Montelus from Massachusetts could blow up - he's underrecruited because he's in New England but people are starting to hear about him.

Adam Gorney: I could see Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) safety Tahaan Goodman making a decent move up the rankings. I saw him at a recent B2G Sports workout and he was definitely impressive flying all over the field and making plays. I also saw him perform a 360-dunk prior to the workout and there's no question about his athleticism. Take a look at his tape. Goodman is a hard-hitting, fierce safety who covers a lot of ground. The offers are starting to pile up, too.

Josh Helmholdt: Indianapolis (Ind.) North Central two-way lineman Darius Latham was one of our four-stars outside the 250 released on Thursday, but watch for him this spring and summer. The 6-5, 280-pounder could legitimately play either side of the ball, and because he plays basketball in the off-season, he has not gotten the work other linemen have in his class. He has huge upside, and we'll see how he progresses throughout the spring and summer.

Chris Nee: A couple of guys along the defensive front in Florida - defensive ends Stacy Thomas and De'Asian Richardson - have a real shot of making a big move into the Rivals 250 and maybe higher. Their previous evaluations were based on limited film and since the initial meetings they have been reviewed further. Thomas was an initial four-star outside the Rivals250 while Richardson was not ranked in the first release.

Keith Niebuhr: I'm going to say Hunter Bivin, the 6-foot-7, 288-pound offensive tackle from Kentucky. I got his film a little late, so he's starting off as a four-star outside of the Rivals250 but I think he has great ability and the potential to see a nice jump at some point.

Brian Perroni: I have loved what I have seen from Baton Rouge (La.) University defensive end Tim Williams. He is incredibly quick off the ball and sheds blocks well too. I'd like to see him in person and if he is a legitimate 6-3, then he can make a case for being the top prospect in the state.



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