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February 1, 2011
Rivals.com analyst Mike Farrell looks at the top story lines in the Midwest Region heading into National Signing Day on Wednesday. The coaching chaos at Pitt tops this list.
1. Pitt's Implosion
The Pitt Panthers were cruising along with easily the top recruiting class in the Big East and boasting wins in recruiting battles over power programs such as Penn State, Florida State, Michigan, Florida, Nebraska as well as numerous Big East rivals. Four-stars like Marquise Wright, Bill Belton, Terrell Chestnut, Kyshoen Jarrett and Jameel Poteat were firmly on board and recruiting others to join the Panthers party. Then Dave Wannstedt was fired, Mike Haywood was hired and fired and the rest has simply fallen apart. New head coach Todd Graham has done his best to clean things up and he and his staff have worked hard, but many other schools have benefitted from Pitt's bungling of this situation.
2. Carolina Cruising
North Carolina has been under fire all season from NCAA investigations into player contact with agents to academic fraud with rumors of USC-like sanctions and the firing of Butch Davis hanging in the air for months. Despite the dark cloud hanging over the program and all the negative recruiting being done by opponents, UNC still managed to dominate the state of North Carolina, bring in one of the ACC's top classes and emerged unscathed in recruiting from all the speculation. It is, quite simply, one of the best examples of damage control and effective recruiting we've seen in recent memory. They might not have finished with the flourish they would have liked, but you can't ask for much better all things considered.
3. Frosty Reception
How often is it that a five-star prospect chooses a program on national television and the school he picks doesn't accept it or really even take his calls for a few days? That's what happened when Matthews (N.C.) Butler linebacker Kris Frost pulled an Auburn hat off the table at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on NBC. While Auburn fans were thrilled, Auburn coaches apparently weren't because Frost had indicated he was all but committed to Michigan earlier in the week and hadn't really been in contact with the Tigers prior to his decision. But things were smoothed out eventually, Frost is a part of this recruiting class and will be tackling Auburn opponents soon enough.
4. Christian Lemay
Frost's former high school teammate, Lemay, has had a rough time of things for a longer period of time. The talented quarterback was deemed ineligible for his entire senior season for an incident at school at the end of his junior year. On top of that he was dropped from the Under Armour All-American Game roster, wasn't eligible for the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas and found out he couldn't play in the Offense-Defense Bowl because he practiced with his future team, the Georgia Bulldogs, as they prepared for their bowl game. He also had to sit and watch his team go 16-0 without him and still average more than 40 points-per-game in what would have been his senior year. You can bet Lemay is looking forward to college football more than most.
5. Five-star Decisions
Linebacker Curtis Grant, offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and linebacker Stephone Anthony are all uncommitted five stars from the Mid-Atlantic area making their decisions on Signing Day and have plenty of fans in suspense. Grant is expected to choose between Ohio State and North Carolina, Kouandjio is choosing between Alabama, Auburn, New Mexico and Iowa and Anthony is apparently down to Clemson and Virginia Tech. These three decisions will be the main focus of the region and one of them could pull a surprise, we just don't know which one yet.
6. Delvon, Darius and Dominique
The decisions of defensive tackle Delvon Simmons (Oregon, USC, Rutgers), athlete Darius Jennings (Ohio State, Virginia, Wake Forest) and Dominique Terrell (Virginia, West Virginia, Miami) aren't as sexy as the five stars but they aren't far behind. Will Simmons stay close to home and play at Rutgers after a late recent visit by Greg Schiano? Will Jennings stick close and play for Mike London at Virginia and will he be joined by Terrell or will one or even all of them pull a surprise?