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September 15, 2011

Sun Devils must sweat out commits

MORE GORNEY: Uni-ted in fashion

A bunch of top-rated West prospects have already committed but that doesn't necessarily mean their recruitment is finished. Many of the recruits have openly stated they will still take visits to other schools with the idea if they see something they like better, they could switch.

The players from Long Beach (Calif.) Poly in Arizona State's recruiting class are a perfect example.

Three-star wide receivers Josiah Blandin, Randall Goforth and Richard Smith along with four-star receiver Kenny Lawler from Upland, Calif., have all said they plan to take other visits. All of them committed so early that it seemed like they wanted to be locked in to a school in case other opportunities didn't arise.

Another player for the Sun Devils to keep a close eye on is defensive end Chad Wheeler since the Santa Monica, Calif., recruit just picked up an offer from USC.

It's become more common for players to de-commit but it seems especially noteworthy this recruiting cycle with West prospects - even those who aren't going to Pac-12 schools.

Look at SMU's class and the only California prospect totally set for the Mustangs is three-star center Carl Hulick. Four-star receiver Gabriel Marks, three-star running back Robert Lewis and three-star linebacker Khalil Pettway are all going to take other visits and it wouldn't be a stunner if they switched their pledges.

UCLA is off to a stronger start than last recruiting cycle. If the Bruins continue to struggle and coach Rick Neuheisel's future is put into serious question, will there be defections there?

Four-star linebacker Aaron Porter and four-star defensive end Morgan Breslin are the top players in UCLA's class and haven't hinted yet about de-committing. Not yet, that is, but we'll see what happens if the Bruins have another disappointing season.

Even USC cannot escape rumors that its commits are looking around or at least taking other official visits. Four-star defensive end Arik Armstead, four-star linebackers Scott Starr and Jabari Ruffin, four-star wide receiver Darreus Rogers and four-star athlete Jaydon Mickens are all expected to be on the road this fall checking out other schools.

Then there has been the spate of de-commitments from top-rated players across the conference. Five-star defensive back Shaq Thompson had been committed to California but reopened his recruitment shortly after his pledge. Now Notre Dame is pushing for an official visit and many other Pac-12 schools are involved.

Five-star defensive tackle Aziz Shittu was on Stanford's commit list until he decided to open back up, too. The Cardinal are still involved but so too are Cal, Nebraska, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Washington and others.

Quick hits

Four-star tight end Taylor McNamara, an Arizona commit who fashions himself in the mold of former Wildcats star Rob Gronkowski, said he's considering official visits to Cal, Notre Dame and Colorado. Rated as the second-best tight end in the 2012 class, McNamara said the Golden Bears' staff has been especially recruiting him hard and that he owes it to himself to make sure he made the right decision by committing in June. No dates have been set yet.

Can Arizona pull off something big at Inglewood, Calif., not only by landing three-star cornerback Devian Shelton, who's pushing for an even higher ranking, but also getting four-star wide receiver Derrick Woods? The Wildcats are one of four schools Woods is expected to visit along with Oklahoma, Alabama and Washington and last recruiting cycle Arizona signed Inglewood receiver Patrick Onwuasor.

From all reports, Michigan did an outstanding job with Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian wide receiver Jordan Payton and Lakewood (Wash.) Lakes offensive tackle Zach Banner, who were both on campus last weekend for the Notre Dame thriller. Neither committed but word is both loved the trip to Ann Arbor and the Wolverines have definitely moved up in a big way.

Arizona State remains the leader for D.J. Foster and the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro prospect was so close to committing to the Sun Devils a little more than a month ago. The four-star decided to wait things out but Arizona State is still the team to beat. Oregon is making a serious push and Foster might also want to visit USC, Auburn, Nebraska and maybe Washington.

UCLA and Cal have emerged as the two top teams for Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian cornerback Ishmael Adams and our guess is that the Bruins hold a slight edge in his recruitment - but only if Neuheisel is retained. Adams has a close relationship with UCLA's coach and after much consideration the four-star seems to want to stay closer to home.

Another four-star committed tight end could be hitting the road on visits before National Signing Day. Orange (Calif.) Lutheran's Christo Kourtzidis, a Florida State pledge, said he wants to investigate all his options before signing with the Seminoles and that Cal will probably receive one of his visits. Kourtzidis isn't sure of any other trips but there's a good chance he could see a few schools in the coming months.

Oregon is the leader for four-star offensive lineman Cedrick Poutasi even though his visit to Eugene didn't work out last week. Poutasi is expected to reschedule that trip and said the Ducks definitely are the top team. Utah and UCLA are also pushing hard but if Oregon offers when Poutasi visits then his recruitment might be over.



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