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February 18, 2011

Roundtable: Looking ahead to 2012

MORE ROUNDTABLES: Jan. 27 | Jan. 28 | Jan. 29 | Jan. 30 | Jan. 31 | Feb. 1 | Feb. 6

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

What 2012 prospect are you most anxious to see in person this spring?

Barry Every: I like watching giant, athletic offensive tackles sliding their feet once engaged with a defender. So for me I would have to say I look forward to seeing Zach Banner and Joshua Garnett. What film I have seen on these behemoths excites the analyst in me and I look forward to seeing them excel at what they are best at: stopping defensive ends from impeding the quarterback.

Mike Farrell: I'd love to see Dorial Green-Beckham, but I don't think he'll be participating in much this spring so I'll say offensive tackle D.J. Humphries. I saw him last spring at the Nike Camp at Virginia Tech but I'm really looking forward to seeing how much he's developed. He could be better than five-star Robert Crisp from a couple years ago.

Adam Gorney: Not to skirt the answer here but I'm most excited to see a position group and it's the wide receivers coming out of Southern California. Many believe it's one of the best groups in years with Bryce Treggs, Darreus Rogers, Derrick Woods, Darius Powe, Richard Smith, Jaydon Mickens, Gabriel Marks and Jordan Payton already in the Rivals250 to watch. Who will step up at multiple camps and prove to be the best receiver in Los Angeles? It will be interesting to watch.

Chris Nee: I really want to see Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep athlete Nelson Agholor in action. His highlight video is simply incredible, but I want to see him at some events competing with and against higher-level prospects than he regularly plays on Friday nights. I just want to see how he stacks up among the Sunshine State's best, because I think he is near the top of the list of prospects in the state.

Keith Niebuhr: Maryville (Tenn.) quarterback Patton Robinette. Although he has only one offer to date (Arkansas State), Robinette is drawing a lot of attention right now. And it's easy to see why. His highlights are incredibly impressive, as is what he accomplished last fall in his first season as a starting quarterback. Robinette looks like a complete quarterback with a very high upside, and I'm anxious to see him up close.

Brian Perroni: Though he is in my region, I have not had a chance to see Dorial Green-Beckham in person just yet. With some people calling him a bigger Andre Johnson, I really want to see how well he moves. He is one of a handful of guys who seem to have an early chance at being named the No. 1 overall prospect in the country for the class of 2012.

Who will be a sleeper school that you see rising with the 2012 class?

Barry Every: Look for UCF to continue finding talent not only in Florida but around the Southeast. One more tremendous recruiting class will force the Big East to invite UCF to become the newest member of the BCS.

Mike Farrell: Not a sleeper but watch out for Miami this year. Al Golden can recruit and I think he brings the 'Canes back to the top 10 in recruiting.

Adam Gorney: In my region, I think Washington has a real chance to make another big move in the Pac-12 rankings and really start competing as one of the top schools in that conference. The state of Washington is loaded once again next season at the top with quarterback Jeff Lindquist, running back KeiVarae Russell and offensive linemen Zach Banner and Joshua Garnett, who already are high-profile, national recruits. If coach Steve Sarkisian can lock up those in-state players as he did with the state's best this recruiting cycle, that would be huge for the Huskies.

Chris Nee: I think Miami will put together a pretty good class for 2012. Al Golden and his staff will benefit from another loaded year in South Florida and they are capable of selling early playing time at a number of positions. The Hurricanes have already held a few Junior Days and the response from them have been very positive.

Keith Niebuhr: That's a tough question to answer, but I'll go with Clemson. Coming off a surprising top-10 finish in the team recruiting rankings, many expect the Tigers to come back down to earth during the next cycle. But I'm not so sure that's going to happen. Even though Clemson has been inconsistent on the field, the Tigers have generated a lot of buzz among prospects. I expect the recruiting success of 2011 to carry into 2012. Does that mean we can expect another top-10 class? That I can't say.

Brian Perroni: TCU is in on a number of top prospects in Texas following its No. 2 overall finish and Rose Bowl championship last season. The Horned Frogs have a great shot at top in-state players such as Dominique Wheeler and Kendall Sanders and they are probably the biggest competitor with Texas for the pledge of running back Johnathan Gray.

What position do you anticipate being loaded in 2012?

Barry Every: I like what I see at the weakside defensive end position to date with Dante Fowler Jr., Jordan Jenkins, Mario Edwards and Adolphus Washington. We haven't even finished our national search for the elite kids so more are surely on the horizon.

Mike Farrell: This could be a special year at wide receiver. Green-Beckham leads the way but there are a ton of others that I think could be very good. Many of them come in different sizes and aren't just jumbo guys. Offensive tackle could be special, too.

Adam Gorney: I'm really impressed with the defensive tackles in this class, led by USC commit Arik Armstead, USC lean Ellis McCarthy, Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate Academy's Eddie Goldman and many others. Jarron Jones, Malcom Brown and Florida commit Dante Phillips are three other names that have caught my attention looking at the Rivals250 list. Although there aren't a ton of defensive tackles listed, it's a top-heavy position group that could be special.

Chris Nee: In Florida there seems to be a good amount of top-tier wide receivers, defensive backs and offensive tackles. Things seem pretty top-heavy at all three positions. I think across the nation there are quite a few great defensive backs. The examples from Florida includes Miami (Fla.) Columbus defensive back Deon Bush, Miramar (Fla.) defensive back Tracey Howard, Tallahassee (Fla.) North Florida Christian defensive back Travis Blanks. Outside the Sunshine State, there are others such as Columbus (Ga.) Carver defensive back Deion Bonner and Sacramento (Calif.) Grant defensive back Shaq Thompson.

Keith Niebuhr: Defensive end, particularly in the South, where there are a ton of very good players with impressive offer lists. During the next 11 months, names such as Dante Fowler Jr. and Tyriq McCord of Florida along with Jordan Jenkins and Jarontay Jones of Georgia are likely to become household names.

Brian Perroni: After a few down years, the linebacker spot seems to be very deep this season. With national prospects such as Kwon Alexander and Josh Clemons out there, as well as a ton of Texas players such as Derek David, Brian Nance, Timothy Cole, Peter Jinkens, Alex De La Torre and Jordan Richmond, schools will have a lot of options at the position.

What will be the biggest story line of this spring?

Barry Every: Unfortunately, perception is reality for most people. So how more heated and nasty the Auburn/Alabama rivalry will get between fans and respective coaching staffs. This year's recruiting trail in Alabama will gain national headlines as one, if not both, schools will be accused of crossing the lines.

Mike Farrell: It will be who can keep up with or come close to Texas when it comes to early commitments. A few schools are already close to double digits and we know Texas will be almost done by June. I think this year there could be more early commitments than ever, despite the NCAA's attempt to slow it down with delayed written offers.

Adam Gorney: The biggest story I'm going to watch this spring is whether Springfield (Mo.) Hillcrest wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham can back up his reputation as possibly the top-rated player in the 2012 class. If he shows up at camps and combines it might be a no-brainer since he's so talented. But the top spot is open once again and a lot of prospects will be competing for it.

Chris Nee: I think the biggest story line of the spring will be the amount of early commitments. I expect the number to be even higher than it was a year ago. I think it will show that new NCAA rules regarding official offers will be rendered relatively meaningless.

Keith Niebuhr: This isn't a new story line, but I'll go with the continuing trend of players committing early. Teams can't offer football prospects in writing until Sept. 1, but that hasn't kept programs from making verbal offers and players from pulling the trigger as juniors. It seems as if more top players each year make their pledges before they've even played a down of their senior seasons.

Brian Perroni: At least in my area, a lot of people will be watching to see what Texas does as far as early recruiting. If the 'Horns don't fill up as early this year then a lot of other schools such as Oklahoma and Texas A&M will likely take a little bit more time as well. If Mack Brown and company decide to push for a lot of commitments at the next junior day, other Big 12 schools will likely follow suit.



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