The 2008 group Johnson, Lewis-Moore and Cwynar have emerged as starters for Notre Dame, but this year's group is much more athletic and dynamic. Between Tuitt, Lynch and Williams, Notre Dame has an incredibly talented trio of defensive linemen bringing versatility to the 3-4 defense.
Tuitt is already college-ready as a 3-4 end and Lynch has the frame to add the size to play the position with a year in the weight room. Both players have pass-rushing ability, especially Lynch, and Tuitt is very good against the run. Williams will play standing up and with his hand down. He will be a guy who will need to be accounted for on each play before he is done at Notre Dame.
Brad Carrico has good size to play in the 3-4 as well if he stays on the defensive side of the ball. Ben Councell is a smaller, slightly less-athletic version of Williams and will stand up and play with his hand down at times. There are others in this class that will impact as well. This is the best defensive line class in at least a decade for Notre Dame.
Losing a pair of four-star prospects, both of whom were in the Rivals250, definitely hurts. The loss of Sarao may hurt a little more because he's an early difference maker at linebacker and a great fit for Stanford on defense. But Carlisle's speed will also be missed. Luckily for Stanford, it still has some talented running backs in Remound Wright and Kelsey Young.
Stanford academics will always have appeal for most prospects that go beyond the head coach. It will be interesting to see how Stanford does next year in its first full class after Jim Harbaugh, but for now the rest of the 2011 class looks stable.
Ohio State and Florida remain on top with Grant, and the Buckeyes hold a slight advantage in my opinion. He had a great visit to Columbus in December and while he's far from a lock, Ohio State is in a good position based on a few sources. After that, continue to keep an eye on Virginia and North Carolina. Grant will be visiting each school over the next two weekends. North Carolina gets Grant's last visit and UVa will be the choice if he elects to stay in-state and go with the comfort factor. However, I expect him to head out of state and right now Columbus is looking good.
As for Kouandjio, Alabama is clearly the team to beat with Iowa as the darkhorse contender. He's visiting Iowa this weekend and Auburn will be making its case next weekend. I'm really surprised USC is out of the picture but he has decided not to take a visit to L.A., so it's essentially down to 'Bama, Iowa and Auburn. New Mexico has little-to-no chance here in my opinion.
Right now I see LSU is No. 3 in the team rankings. Based on who it still is recruiting do you think it'll finish in the top five?
- Perry from Monroe, La.
Right now everybody wants to know what Jermauria Rasco is going to do. I think LSU still leads for him although Florida State has a good chance here and Texas is getting back into it. He will decide on Signing Day and if he picks the Tigers it will give Les Miles' program a late and much-needed addition at defensive end.
Plenty of people think LSU leads for Timmy Jernigan as well. That would be huge, of course, but again watch out for Florida State and keep an eye on Florida as well. LSU will be trying to pull upsets with guys such as Ray Drew and C.J. Johnson also. If it can land a couple of those guys, this class could finish about where it is right now and a top five finish is a good bet.
Are there any guys that you think might flip and change their commitment near or around Signing Day?
- Nathan from Boone, N.C.
I was going to say offensive lineman Christian Westerman but he flipped on Friday so that's already done. Marcus Roberson, another top 40 recruit nationally, is committed to Texas Tech but he could also flip to Auburn or maybe Florida.
Four-star Miami defensive backs Gerod Holliman and Andrew Johnson both originally committed to Ole Miss but recently flipped to Louisville. Now Houston Nutt and his staff are trying to bring them back on board with the Rebels. They appear to be torn heading into the stretch run and we might not find out what happens until Signing Day.
Right now Drew is probably considered a Georgia lean but keep an eye on LSU as a serious threat. The Tigers have been in his ear a lot lately. Auburn is also very much in the mix and Miami has made up ground.
I think the late run that Georgia is on will really help with Drew. Crowell is probably 60-40 in favor of Georgia over Alabama right now and Auburn is in great shape with Wright. Tennessee is running second in that race. Aside from those three prospects, Georgia locked up almost all of the top talent.
Virginia's big weekend
This is a huge recruiting weekend for Virginia. Do you think there will be any commitments in the next few days and how do you think coach Mike London has done this year?
- Michael from Roanoke, Va.
Things are looking a lot better now than they were a few weeks ago. Daquan Romero switching from North Carolina to UVa seemed to help generate some late momentum, and that was followed by Demetrious Nicholson's decision to join the Cavaliers.
Calling this a huge recruiting weekend is an understatement. When you have three guys such as Grant, Dominique Terrell and Jeremiah Hendy surrounded by so many guys already committed, you have a golden opportunity. Terrell is still planning to visit Miami next weekend but there's a chance he could commit while he's in Charlottesville.
You might have to wait a bit longer to find out what Grant and Hendy are going to do and while Virginia is a long shot for Grant, there's a chance Hendy is pulled away from Maryland.