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February 3, 2011

Signing Day Blitz: Ranking the Big East

More Conferences: ACC | Big Ten | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC

Louisville finished with a top-30 class on National Signing Day after securing a signature from Gerod Holliman and lands at No. 1 in the Big East.

Check out the breakdown of the conference in a special edition of the Big East Blitz.

Cincinnati | Connecticut | Louisville | Pittsburgh
Rutgers | South Florida | Syracuse | West Virginia

Signing Day Blitz: Ranking the Big East
1. Louisville

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Headliner: Four-star defensive back Gerod Holliman of Miami (Fla.) Southridge is a 6-foot, 180-pounds safety prospect who should flourish in Louisville's strength and conditioning program, but also has the skill set to line up at cornerback. Holliman has great ball skills and is not afraid to make contact.
Sleeper: Offensive linemen standing 6 feet 2 tend to be overlooked nowadays, but at 295 pounds, three-star John Miller of Miami (Fla.) Central is extremely strong and has great feet for his size. The Cardinals staff also did a great job fending off a few schools leading up to Signing Day.
Overview: Charlie Strong is proving to everyone that he is still a recruiting force in the Sunshine State. Twelve of the 19 signed players for the Cardinals come from the state of Florida, including four-star talent such as Holliman, Teddy Bridgewater, Eli Rogers and Andrew Johnson. He also went head-to-head with the big three in Florida on several recruits, and even stole away defensive end Bryant Dubose from Miami on Signing Day.
2. Rutgers

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ScarletNation.com
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Headliner: Four-star running back Savon Huggins may be the most important recruit in the program's history. Not only is he the No. 58 prospect in the nation and the No. 1 prospect in New Jersey, it also shows everyone in the state that Rutgers can keep the best players home. With no clear-cut returning starter next season at running back, Huggins should also see early playing time.
Sleeper: Tight end Tyler Kroft of Exton (Pa.) Downingtown East has a chance to make an early impact at Rutgers. At 6 feet 5 and 225 pounds, Kroft has a frame that can easily add on size, while he runs routes like a wide receiver and has soft, reliable hands.
Overview: Coming off of a 4-8 season, this was an impressive job done by coach Greg Schiano and his staff. Rutgers kept three of the top four players in New Jersey home, while also grabbing two top players from New York, Quentin Gause and Al Page, and maintaining some continued success in Florida. Rutgers also profited greatly from Pittsburgh's coaching chaos by grabbing three top recruits who were previously committed to the Panthers.
3. West Virginia

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WVSports.com
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Headliner: Four-star running back Andrew Buie of Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian is the type of back who should flourish in West Virginia's open offense, especially since he is equally effective as a runner and a receiver.
Sleeper: Wide receiver Kenneth Myers of Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast is another player who is made for coach Dana Holgorsen's offense. He has great size, soft hands and is quick off the line of scrimmage.
Overview: While not as impressive as some of their recent classes, the Mountaineers still pulled in a strong group. Buie should see early playing time, four-star Terrell Chestnut can do a little bit of everything and four-star Vance Roberts got a quick start by enrolling early. Another player to watch is three-star junior college linebacker Josh Francis, who also enrolled early, and will be given every chance to make his mark in 2011.
4. Cincinnati

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BearcatReport.com
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Headliner: The Bearcats thought they were out of it for four-star running back Jameel Poteat, but when Pittsburgh underwent its coaching changes, Poteat went back on the market. The Cincinnati coaching staff quickly swooped in and received a commitment from the Pennsylvania back two weeks later.
Sleeper: The last Bearcat to commit, defensive end Chad Hannah, may prove to be the most valuable down the road. A raw player who flourished late, Hannah has all the tools to succeed if given the time and coaching.
Overview: Cincinnati signed 24 players in this class, 20 of which were three-star players. Two of the important additions were quarterbacks Stephen Weatherford and Patrick Coyne, who should strengthen a thin position. Linebacker Nick Temple is also a big hitter, while wide receiver Shaquille Washington should excel in coach Butch Jones' offense.
5. Pittsburgh

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PantherLair.com
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Headliner: Four-star defensive tackle Khaynin Mosley-Smith never wavered from his commitment after the coaching change, and should see early playing time after enrolling early.
Sleeper: Jason Frimpong may not have envisioned himself at Pittsburgh a couple of months ago, but the speedy athlete, who will play defensive back for the Panthers, should feel right at home in the secondary.
Overview: Coach Todd Graham did not have much time to work with upon his arrival at Pittsburgh, but he did an admirable job. Graham filled his roster with speed and more speed, and will likely figure out if they belong on offense or defense later. One late addition was local athlete Lafayette Pitts who flipped from Rutgers on signing day. The Panthers were hoping to add a few more local recruits, but that will have to wait until next season after Graham's late arrival. One glaring question mark is that out of 20 signed players, only three are either offensive or defensive linemen.
6. USF

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USFBullseye.com
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Headliner: The Bulls had to wait until signing day to find out that they grabbed four-star defensive tackle Elkino Watson of Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington, but their patience should pay off. Watson chose the Bulls over Miami, Florida and Louisville.
Sleeper: Three-star defensive end Clavion Nelson of Hollywood (Fla.) South Broward did not emerge as a top recruit until his senior season, but at 6-4 and 225 pounds he can grow into a talented speed-rusher.
Overview: The addition of Watson definitely bolstered this class, but there are other key players that should help the Bulls. Local wide receivers Andre Davis and Ruben Gonzalez are both talented, while Max Lang and David Simon should add depth to the offensive line. However, they did miss out on local athlete Joshua Grady, who pulled a surprise on signing day by committing to Vanderbilt.
7. Syracuse

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Headliner: At 6 feet 1 and 175 pounds, cornerback Ritchy Desir of North Miami Beach (Fla.) has the potential to grow into a safety down the road, but definitely has cornerback skills. He was able to showcase his athleticism at the high school level by lining up at safety, quarterback, punter, kicker and return man.
Sleeper: Shutang Mungwa of Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic was originally committed to Stanford, before making his move to the Orange in January. As a 6-foot-2, 200-pound safety prospect, he can stay in the secondary or more likely move over to linebacker after a little time in the weight room.
Overview: Coach Marrone is still trying to establish a recruiting foothold in the region, and by signing 12 New York recruits in a class of 26, he may be closer to accomplishing that. However, look for a few of the Florida recruits, aside from Desir, to potentially see early playing time. Wide receiver Durell Eskridge and linebacker Oliver Vigille, both of Miami (Fla.) Central, are hard-nosed players, who give the Orange speed at both positions. Georgia linebacker Cameron Lynch is an SEC-caliber talent but was just a few inches too short to earn those offers.
8. Connecticut

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UConnReport.com
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Headliner: Linebacker Jefferson Ashiru of Powder Springs (Ga.) Mceachern brings toughness and smarts to Storrs. Very impressive physically, Ashiru has the ability to play both the inside and outside linebacker position.
Sleeper: Joining Ashiru at the linebacker position is Marquise Vann of Fairfield, Ohio. This duo should give the Huskies a strong foundation at the linebacker position for several years.
Overview: After the departure of coach Randy Edsall, there was a great deal of uncertainty in Storrs. Despite this uncertainty, the remaining staff did a remarkable job in keeping the class together, aside from the loss of three-star defensive back Adrian Amos to Penn State. Late additions from Ashiru and teammate Xavier Hemingway solidified this defensive class, while the early enrollment of quarterback Michael Nebrich gives him a jumpstart heading into spring practice and the 2011 season.



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