Look for Ronald Powell of Rancho Verde, Calif., to commit to Florida in the near future. It is a major catch for coach Urban Meyer, who wooed Powell away from USC. Powell, a 6-4, 240-pounder, is the No. 11 player in the nation according to my evaluations and the No. 2 defensive lineman behind Jackson Jeffcoat of Plano, Texas.
So the SEC gets richer and richer. Most recruiting services have six SEC schools rated among the top 10 recruiting classes in the nation. My list? Texas, Florida, Alabama, Penn State, Oklahoma, LSU, USC, Tennessee, Georgia and Auburn.
Rivals, which rates Texas, Alabama and Florida 1-2-3, also lists six SEC schools among its top 10. Scout, which rates Oklahoma, Texas and Alabama 1-2-3, rates five SEC schools. And ESPN, which rates Florida, Texas and Alabama 1-2-3, also rates six.
Why is the SEC so dominating? Because they have the best recruiters. It's as simple as that. Sure, there is a lot of talent in the South and, because of lower academic standards, they are able to sign more players than other conferences. They sign players that other schools can't. And they send them to prep schools, like a farm system.
Penn State is the only Big 10 school in the mix. Ohio State and Michigan, which have been perennial top 10 schools in the past, are in the top 15 this year. Ohio State figures to come on strong before the February signing date but the rest of the Big 10 is struggling.
There isn't as much high school talent in the Midwest as in the past. And the Big 10 hasn't recruited nationally as well as the SEC and other conferences. Recruiting has become more aggressive than ever before and the Big 10 isn't keeping up with the SEC and Big 12 and Pac-10. If you aren't a year ahead of other schools, or at least at the same level, you are in trouble.
It is easy to see why Illinois and Notre Dame are struggling. Illini coach Ron Zook is confronted with a constant turnover of assistant coaches, never a good sign for any program. You have to bring in great assistant coaches from the beginning.
It appears Zook may have hit a bulls-eye with his four new staff members. Hopefully, it isn't too late. But it remains to be seen if the new hires will boost the quality of Illinois' recruiting, especially on a national basis.
The same can be said about Notre Dame. New coach Brian Kelly kept only one member of Charlie Weis' staff, Tony Alford, one of Notre Dame's two best recruiters. But he dismissed Brian Polian, son of Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian, who had recruited Jimmy Clausen, Dayne Crist and Manti Te'o. I think it was a bad decision. Great recruiters are hard to find.
It also will be a bad decision, in my view, if Kelly opts to bring in a regional staff--mostly members of his old staff at Cincinnati--that doesn't know how to recruit the country. Kelly needs someone who can go into Los Angeles and Texas and Florida and the East Coast and beat other elite programs for a player or two.
Kelly could use a defensive lineman like St. Rita's Bruce Gaston Jr., a 6-3, 300-pounder who remains uncommitted. Gaston deserves to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio next month and I'm trying to get him an invitation so he can join the other five Chicago area participants--tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz of Johnsburg, offensive tackle Christian Lombard of Fremd, wide receiver Kyle Prater of Proviso West, defensive lineman Chance Carter of Loyola and defensive back Corey Cooper of Proviso East.