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November 14, 2003

On The Recruiting Trail

This week's edition of On The Recruiting Trail tackles the following hot topics:

1. LSU's ongoing hot streak
2. Tracking the Top 5
3. Swamp creatures
4. Where the fun is

Blazing the Bayou:
What do you get the coach who has everything? That could be the proverbial question asked of LSU's Nick Saban as he's in the process of reeling in his third consecutive blockbuster signing class.

The Tigers, who finished as last year's Rivals.com recruiting national champions, have bullied their way into this year's national top 10 by adding a pair of surprising four-star verbals to an already impressive group of commitments. The first coup was landing Galena Park (Tex.) defensive end Trumaine Johnson after he made an official visit to Baton Rouge during the Tigers' "off" week. It speaks volumes about the LSU staff's prowess that it didn't take the "Death Valley" experience to bring him into the fold.

The second was getting Lake Charles (La.) offensive lineman Ryan Miller to reverse field on his Texas A&M verbal in favor of wearing the purple and gold. Miller told Rivals' TigerBait.com that he made his original choice based on the fact that his father attended A&M in the 70s, but upon reflection he felt more comfortable staying home for college.

That gives LSU 12 verbals thus far and a long list of elite players still mentioning the Tigers with high interest. Ironically, the staff is crunching scholarship numbers and may have to turn away some prospects they'd otherwise be thrilled to sign. LSU is in the rare position of being maxed out on the 85 limit, and will likely sign fewer than the full 25 scholarships for the first time in recent memory.


Best of the best:
Commitments have gradually started to filter down the Rivals100 Team list this fall, but the nation's five top prospects still remain on the board. Still keeping us in suspense are Palestine (Tex.) running back Adrian Peterson (pictured at right), Lake Mary (Fla.) linebacker Keith Rivers, Cleveland (Ohio) defensive back Theodore Ginn Jr. and St. Martinville (La.) wide receiver Early Doucet.

So just where are these five-star gems headed, you ask? The crystal ball isn't yielding any definite answers, but here's a brief glimpse at each superstar's status:

* Peterson divulged this week that he's likely headed out of the Lone Star State to play his college football. Arkansas, Oklahoma, Miami, USC and UCLA are lined up to receive his five official visits. The Bruins and Razorbacks already received their dates in October, while the others will come in December. The No. 1 ranked Sooners are believed to be the team to beat.

* Rivers-to-USC rumors have been almost as frequent Trojan touchdown drives this fall. While Florida and Oklahoma still have an outside shot, it will be a shocker if the manchild linebacker doesn't eventually turn those rumors into fact and land in L.A.

* A receiver's worst nightmare, a.k.a. Ginn, has been shaping up to be a classic Ohio State-Michigan fight for a long time, and word has it that Buckeyes will win this particular matchup on the familiar Cleveland battlefield. He still plans official visits with the Wolverines and USC, but expect him to be playing in the Horseshoe before the NFL snatches up this sure-fire talent.

* The electrifying Doucet has been working with a top five list for quite some time now consisting of LSU, Florida, Miami, Florida State and Oklahoma. The Hurricanes have been making a Category 5 push for Doucet, but sources say LSU has had the windows boarded up for quite some time.


Gators battle on Terrapins' home turf:
Ralph Friedgen & Co. have done an impressive job of locking down eight of the state's top prospects early in the recruiting process.

However, they still have a fight on their hands for three of the area's best players, five-star Greenbelt Roosevelt defensive end Derrick Harvey (pictured at right), three-star DeMatha Catholic wide receiver Derrick McPhearson and three-star defensive tackle Jared Gaither.

While it's unusual for Florida to be so prominent in the state, it appears the Gators will be one of the Terps' main competitors for all three players. A potential Peach Bowl matchup could spice up matters even further.


Weekend 'hot spots':
The season's first blast of wintery weather has invaded the eastern U.S., but that won't keep the intensity from reaching a boiling point at a few venues.

This weekend's best recruiting hot spots include: Auburn at Georgia (four-star OL Drew Miller official visit - pictured at right), N.C. State at Florida State (four-star OL Brett Gallimore official visit), Pittsburgh at West Virginia (four-star LBs E.J. Kuale and Barry Wright official visits), LSU at Alabama and Texas Tech at Texas.

Expect a lot more top prospects' eyes to be on those matchups, either in person or on TV.


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