Recruiting: The rest of the Big East ...
We've told you plenty about USF's recruiting class, but want to give you a little context to the rest of the Big East -- who had the best class, what the trends are across the league.
First, there's less of a Florida presence across the league, with a total of 17 Floridians signed by the other seven Big East schools, down from 25 a year ago. Rutgers and West Virginia continue to recruit the state the most, with the Mountaineers getting five and the Scarlet Knights four; a year ago, Rutgers had five and West Virginia four.
Pittsburgh and Syracuse, who had four Floridians each last season, had just one and two, respectively, this season. Connecticut reached into the Sunshine State for five players in 2007, but had just one in 2008. The only Big East team ramping up its recruiting in Florida was Cincinnati, which was the only Big East team without a Florida signee last year, but had three this time, albeit three two-star recruits.
If there's a trend I can spot, it might be schools protecting their own backyards. Pittsburgh's top three recruits are from Pennsylvania; West Virginia and Rutgers' only five-star players are from in-state, as are Syracuse's three four-star recruits.
Best class? Based on the national rankings, it's hard to argue with Pittsburgh, which had three of the Big East's four five-star recruits, according to Scout.com: defensive end Shayne Hale, receiver Jonathan Baldwin and tackle Lucas Nix are all rated among the top six nationally at their positions. Add in two quarterbacks -- Greg Cross is a four-star juco, Tino Sunseri a three-star from Pittsburgh -- and it's a well-rounded class. Remember, LeSean McCoy was a five-star last year and was huge for Pitt. If only Wannstedt were this good on Saturdays in the fall ...
West Virginia may have the single best recruit in the league in offensive lineman Josh Jenkins, rated by Scout as the No. 1 guard in the nation. Pat White's little brother, Coley, is exciting because he's Pat White's little brother, but he also made an official visit to Central Michigan last week.
Rutgers got a big lineman in 6-foot-8 tackle Art Forst, and Louisville got just one four-star in defensive tackle Tyler Jessen but flanked him with 14 three-star kids. The Cardinals also went heavy on junior college kids, signing nine; the rest of the league totaled 11, so it looks like Steve Kragthorpe wants immediate impact. I was impressed the way Syracuse went into Pittsburgh's home turf, getting two cornerbacks from Harrisburg and a top defensive end from Pittsburgh.
Cincinnati and Connecticut had arguably the least impressive classes in the league -- Cincy got a 6-foot-4 quarterback in Michigan's Brendan Kay, and their class doesn't include quarterback Demetrius Jones, who transferred from Notre Dame last fall and would be their best recruit. Connecticut got a 6-foot-8 tackle in Jimmy Bennett and plucked a three-star cornerback, Dwayne Gratz, out of Piscataway.
With barely any classes registering in the top 25 nationally, it's something of a down year in terms of the Big East's national perception, especially when you consider the large number of underclassmen who left for the NFL Draft, leaving big holes at key positions. We'll have more on USF's class later today. ...