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January 15, 2005

A glimpse into the recruiting crystal ball

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - In the recruiting business many people want analysts to make predictions on which schools players will end up at.

However, that's something that staff at Rivals.com tries to shy away from unless there is personal one-on-one contact with recruits events like this week's U.S. Army All-American Game for example.

After spending a lot of time with many of the top prospects, Rivals.com analysts Jeremy Crabtree and Mike Farrell glimpse into the crystal ball and give their best guesses as to who's going where.


The two biggest story lines on Saturday likely will be the big days that both Tennessee and Iowa are likely to have. The Vols and Hawkeyes easily could each land four prospects that could go a long way toward solidifying their spots at the top in their respective conferences.

And the big thing is that the Vols might end up taking a monster step toward the top spot in the national rankings with a big day on Saturday. If they land the guys that are expected to commit to them then UT fans will have No. 1 on their mind.

So why say that?

Let's take a look at the evidence.

Oak Creek, Wis., four-star strongside defensive end Raymond Henderson is scheduled to announce on Saturday and all signs have been pointing toward Tennessee for quite some time. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder visited Iowa, LSU, Nebraska, Tennessee and UCLA, but always at the top of his list was Tennessee. All indications from camp this week was that love for the Volunteers had not changed at all, so don't be surprised at all to see him donning an orange hat during the game.

Expected to join Henderson is Hamilton, Ohio, four-star safety Adam Myers-White. Ranked as the nation's No. 9 safety, Myers-White visited Cincinnati, Nebraska, Purdue, USC and Tennessee. However, it's his official visit to Knoxville on October 22 that he still talks glowingly about today.

Rico McCoy has been pimping around this week wearing Ohio State gear, but many insiders feel that the shirts were nothing but a ploy to distract people from where his ultimate destination will be - Tennessee. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound outside linebacker from Washington (D.C.) St. John's College Prep has had a very solid week of practice and he would be a very solid addition for the Vols.

While those three additions would be sweet enough and likely push the Vols toward the No. 1 spot, the real cherry on top of the cake would be landing five-star receiver Patrick Turner. It's been going back and forth as to whether or not Turner does announce on Saturday or not, but the Vols apparently have made up some major ground on Turner in the last two weeks and all signs point now to him picking UT.

If things were to fall into line for the Vols that would be about as big as it gets, unless you're an Iowa Hawkeye fan. Iowa is likely going to hit an Illinois grand slam on Saturday when it picks up commitments from four-star linebacker Ryan Bain, five-star offensive tackle Dan Doering, four-star tight end Anthony Moeaki and four-star offensive tackle Dace Richardson.

To go along with four-star quarterback commitment Jake Christensen, the pledges on Saturday would give the Hawkeyes commits from five of the top seven players in the state of Illinois. There is no question that Kirk Ferentz saw an open hole with Illinois and Notre Dame situations up in the air throughout most of the recruiting season and it looks like his hard work is about to be rewarded with what potentially could end up being the top class in the Big 10.

Landing all these Illinois studs is something that Christensen has been predicting since the day he committed to Iowa. When Richardson first heard that prediction he was a little taken back.

"When he committed, I saw on Rivals that he made that statement," Richardson said. "I thought he was a little cocky, but quarterbacks can be that way. Every time I see him, it's Hawkeyes, Hawkeyes, Hawkeyes. I saw him early this morning wearing a Hawkeye shirt and in then in the afternoon he was wearing a Hawkeye hat. He was doing his job. He's always been promoting Iowa, and we've definitely been listening."

Randallstown, Md., five-star strongside defensive end Melvin Alaeze has been one of the more dominating defensive linemen on either squad all the way through camp. While he had offers from teams all over the nation, including Miami, USC, Oklahoma, Penn State, the 6-foot-2, 277-pounder took trips only to Maryland and Virginia Tech.

It's been narrowed to between the Terps and Hokies for quite some time, and sources all seem to indicate that Alaeze is likely Maryland bound. The commitment would be a huge get for the Terps, who missed out on the No. 1 player in the state and the No. 1 player in the nation, Derrick Williams.

North Carolina running back Toney Baker is playing his cards close to the vest. Two sources have indicated that he will choose NC State, one said it's Tennessee all the way and yet another saw Baker playing NCAA 2005 using Virginia as his team. N.C. State is our choice, but this will be one of the more suspenseful decisions on the day.

One of the biggest surprises on Saturday is likely to be the decision of Los Angeles Dorsey receiver David Gettis. While he's being heavily recruited by quite a few other schools out West, but with him being one of the nation's top 400-meter sprinters it really looks like Baylor is where he's going to end up at. And if you're a top 400-meter sprinter, Baylor is definitely the place. An even bigger clue that he's heading to Baylor is that he's scheduled to take one and only one official visit and that this weekend to Waco after he's done with the game.

Rey Maualuga and Ryan Reynolds became good friends throughout the recruiting process after an early meeting at the Palo Alto NIKE Training Camp. Back then they were just emerging on the national recruiting scene and now here they are both five-star linebackers that are expected to announce on Saturday.

Most of the signs have been pointing toward Maualuga picking USC for quite some time and that's the word around the West camp. Reynolds is expected to announce for Oklahoma, and in the end it's very ironic that Rey and Ryan will be playing against each other for the two teams that played in this year's national championship game.

Killeen, Texas, four-star defensive tackle Roy Miller hasn't hidden his affection for the Texas Longhorns this week and has been flashing the Hook'em sign every chance that he can get. He gave permission to people to report early in the week that he was heading to Texas, so expect him to put on a burnt orange hat on Saturday.

Five-star defensive tackle Jerrell Powe didn't have the week that he wanted as he was sidelined with injuries and an illness that will keep him out of the game on Saturday. Still he's going to become an Auburn Tiger, a school that he's held much love for ever since he started the recruiting process. It looks like Auburn is going to place Powe at Butler County Community College next season if he doesn't qualify.

Maurice Wells is all set to head to the Big Ten and play for Ohio State. Wells likes the challenge of proving he can be durable enough as a small back in the land of giants and really liked OSU on his visit. Georgia Tech finishes second in this race and are losing a very talented player.

One of the better jokes going around amongst the players on the East team is that New York wide receiver Nyan Boateng will choose a hat with numerous team logos on it because no one can really predict where he's going. The word has been that the Florida Gators will get Boateng's commitment, but Nebraska is also a possibility. We'll pick the Gators if he decides to announce at all this Saturday.

What about some of the other bigger names that aren't scheduled to announce on Saturday?

Five-star defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger dropped subtle hints that he's leaning toward Oklahoma, but he is really looking forward to his visits to both Tennessee and Florida. Louisville (Ky.) Ballard defensive end Earl Heyman, who has had an impressive week of practice, has been talking about Louisville quite a bit to everybody that would listen this week.

Chris Scott was talking about Florida pretty heavily early in the week of practice, despite rumors that he had or had been committed to Tennessee. Word on the streets is that Boateng was working him hard to end up at Florida with him this week.

The two biggest names on the board that haven't been talked about yet are quarterback Ryan Perrilloux and Fred Rouse.

Let's break down Perrilloux first. Everybody, including guys that are committed to Texas or leaning that way, were given the impression that LSU will be the final destination for the nation's No. 1 dual-threat quarterback.

"There's just too much of a support system for him down there," one of the players said. "His heart might be set on Texas, but his head and his family are all pushing him to LSU."

Rouse on the other hand has been a little tougher to read, according to people around him this week. While he talks up Alabama, Texas and several other teams, a few players have gotten him to talk over and over about Florida State as where he's going to end up at.


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