Iowa scored a major recruiting coup on Sunday when running back/linebacker Rodney Coe of Edwardsville, the top-rated player in Illinois, and running back Mikail McCall of Thornridge committed to Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz.
Coe, a 6-3, 230-pounder, chose Iowa over Illinois. He could be an All-America at running back or linebacker but he prefers to play running back. He was slowed by injuries as a senior but, when healthy, he has 4.5 speed and is one of the best big backs in the country, a perfect fit for Iowa's offense. Coe and McCall could form a pony express backfield that could remind old-timers of SMU's Eric Dickerson and Craig James.
McCall, who originally had committed to Michigan State, had his scholarship offer pulled by Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio after McCall made his official visit to the East Lansing campus on Dec. 3 and voiced some concerns over the number of running backs in Michigan State's recruiting class.
McCall, who had chosen Michigan State over Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota, informed Dantonio that he wanted to take a recruiting trip to Iowa. Soon afterward, Dantonio pulled his scholarship offer, claiming McCall had broken their non-binding agreement.
Iowa had continued to recruit McCall, a 205-pounder, after he had committed to Michigan State. Thornridge coach Mike Morrissey has close ties to the Iowa program. McCall committed to Iowa on Sunday, during his official visit to the Iowa City campus.
I've never heard of this happening before in major college recruiting, not in all of my 30 years of evaluating high school talent, but Notre Dame has already lost three top 100 commitments from the class of 2011 and the Irish may be on the brink of losing a fourth, defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt of Monroe, Ga.
Tuitt, a 6-6, 255-pounder who is rated as the No. 77 player in the nation, is visiting Auburn. Originally, he chose Notre Dame over Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Florida and North Carolina. In the wake of Notre Dame's on-campus and on-the-field issues during the past season, and the losses of running back Justice Hayes of Grand Blanc, Mich., to Michigan and offensive lineman Jordan Prestwood of Plant City, Fla., and defensive end Aaron Lynch of Cape Coral, Fla., to Florida State, Tuitt apparently has been persuaded to look elsewhere. Notre Dame also lost defensive back Clay Burton of Venice, Fla., to Florida.
I must admit I really like Tuitt. I had arranged to interview him and several other top prospects in the Atlanta area. But he had a basketball game that day and was going to meet me the night before, despite a driving ice and snow storm that caused hundreds of automobile accidents in the metropolitan area. Even so, Tuitt, his mother and two siblings took four hours to drive the normally 30-minute trip to meet me in Marietta.
Jordan Frysinger, a 6-0, 175-pound running back from Corning, N.Y., originally committed to play lacrosse for perennial national power Johns Hopkins. But after visiting Illinois last weekend, Frysinger pledged to play football for coach Ron Zook.
He had a breakout season as a senior, rushing for 1,686 yards and 31 touchdowns and earning All-State recognition. As a senior, he rushed for 1,352 yards in only 80 attempts and scored 27 touchdowns. But he was lightly recruited by major Division I schools because it was assumed he would honor his commitment to play lacrosse at Johns Hopkins.
Despite his numbers as a running back, Frysinger projects as a wide receiver at Illinois. He admitted that playing big-time college football never entered his mind until after the 2010 season. He thought he was an Ivy League or small-college player at best. But apparently Zook convinced him otherwise.
A reader missed my point on Notre Dame's inability to sign heavily recruited players, especially offensive linemen. Notre Dame doesn't have to go after projects because they don't have to. They just haven't done a very good job of identifying outstanding offensive linemen, which the program badly needs.
The reader mentioned Anthony Costanzo of Lake Zurich. He was a 6-7, 250-pound offensive lineman coming out of high school who didn't receive any major college offers. So he enrolled at Fork Union Military Academy in Fork Union, Va., and developed into a 6-7, 308-pound standout who was recruited by Boston College and is rated as the top offensive tackle prospect in the 2011 NFL draft.
The point here is Costanzo, now 23, had to go to a prep school to develop physically. He wasn't ready for Boston College or any major Division I school as a true freshman. I didn't rate Costanzo highly coming out of high school. He wasn't ready. If he had been, he wouldn't have had to go to a prep school to develop.
Notre Dame can't afford to take developmental players. The point is Notre Dame didn't go after heavily recruited players, many from Catholic schools, and that's bad recruiting. Boston College has a great evaluating system. If I was at Notre Dame, I would watch who Boston College and Iowa are recruiting, especially offensive linemen, and go after them. They have a much better track record in that area than Notre Dame.
Sean Cotton of Walther Lutheran, who originally had committed to Northwestern but was dropped after he scored only 20 on his ACT, has opened up his recruitment. The 6-2, 195-pound safety is considering Purdue, Indiana, Minnesota, Central Michigan and Western Michigan and hopes to make a decision after taking official visits in January.
Illinois is in the mix for wide receiver Kenny Knight of Detroit. Illinois, Indiana, Western Michigan and Toledo have offered.
Notre Dame is in the mix for 6-5, 255-pound defensive end Brennan Scarlett of Portland, Ore. He has received 18 offers, including Notre Dame, LSU, Nebraska, Oregon, USC, UCLA, Stanford, Oklahoma and Boise State.