Tuesday, February 6, 2007

By Mike Farrell, Special to SI.com, From Rivals.com
If there's one team that can catch Florida in the battle for the mythical football recruiting title of 2007, it's LSU.
While the Gators have been chomping away at Miami and Florida State to own the state of Florida, LSU is looking to close well in its stomping grounds in an attempt to pass the national champions.
Florida coach Urban Meyer has garnered a lot of the attention since the New Year began. Winning a national title and having an amazing recruiting class will cause that to happen. However, don't sleep on LSU's Les Miles. If Miles and his staff can close out on three key blue-chippers, there's an outside chance they could give Florida a run for their money on Wednesday, National Signing Day.
Baton Rouge (La.) Southern Lab athlete Chad Jones -- the No. 14 player in the nation -- will choose between LSU, Florida State and Florida on Wednesday at a press conference at his school. While Jones hasn't told anyone his destination, it's widely assumed that the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder is unlikely to leave the state.
Hempstead, Texas wide receiver Terrance Toliver doesn't hail from Louisiana. However, since he is from Eastern Texas, the Tigers could easily be as much a part of growing up as the Texas Longhorns. LSU has been Toliver's favorite for quite some time. The 6-4, 185-pounder will choose between LSU and Florida on Wednesday. He's ranked as the No. 13 player in the nation.
But the biggest name still on LSU's board is John Curtis (River Ridge, La.) running back Joe McKnight. The 6-1, 193-pounder is considered by many to be the best athlete in Louisiana in years. McKnight, ranked as the nation's second-best player, will choose between LSU and USC on Signing Day. Again, betting against the Tigers for an in-state standout is not smart.
If Miles can get signatures from Jones, Toliver and McKnight on Signing Day, LSU has a chance to unseat Florida -- the team many have already crowned this year's recruiting champion.
Wolverine upset: The word "upset" is an interesting one. On the one hand, Michigan pulled a big coup when Long Beach (Calif.) Poly cornerback Donovan Warren spurned USC to commit to Michigan last week. However, two days later Wolverines fans were not happy when WR/CB Ronald Johnson, the state of Michigan's top player, committed to USC over the Wolverines and others. Both Warren and Johnson are ranked as top-25 players nationally.

Devine intervention: North Fort Myers, Fla., running back Noel Devine -- the nation's top all-purpose back -- took his second official visit of the recruiting year last weekend to West Virginia. The 5-8, 170-pounder who has been compared to Barry Sanders enjoyed the trip to Morgantown, according to his high school coach, James Iandoli. Devine visited Alabama last weekend and has an official visit scheduled to Florida State for this weekend. Unless he decides to sign on Wednesday and end things, Devine looks like he'll extend the process into mid-February.
Still waiting on Jones: North Carolina, Tennessee and Clemson are still waiting for Cummings (Burlington, N.C.) wide receiver Dwight Jones to make his decision. One of the nation's top receivers, Jones has been committed to the Tar Heels since last February. However, once John Bunting was fired, Jones took visits to Tennessee and Clemson. Despite still being labeled as a commitment, Jones will announce his official choice on Wednesday.
Gators continue to roll: Florida continues to bring in top commitments as Signing Day approaches. The latest was Forrest (Jackonsville) linebacker Brandon Hicks, a 6-foot-3, 205-pounder who chose the Gators over Miami. Last week Florida beat out Ohio State for St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale) safety Major Wright and Alabama for Lakeland (Fla.) defensive tackle John Brown. Florida is still waiting on a few more prospects, led by Glades Central (Belle Glade, Fla.) wide receiver Deonte Thompson.
Indiana or Florida?: It doesn't sound like a fair fight, but Indiana is trying to fight off Florida for a recruit. Warren Central (Indianapolis) safety Jerimy Finch originally committed to Michigan. However, the 6-1, 203-pounder de-committed from the Wolverines and surprisingly chose Indiana. In another twist, Finch later took an official visit to Florida and is expected to choose between the Hoosiers and Gators early this week.
Tidbits: The nation's top defensive tackle, Marvin Austin from Ballou (Washington, D.C.), will announce between North Carolina and Florida State on Wednesday. ... Alcoa, Tenn., defensive end Rae Sykes will decide between Florida State and Tennessee on Wednesday. ... Tennessee defensive tackle commitment Rolando Melancon from Lutcher, La., said he expects to sign with the Volunteers despite a late official visit to Alabama last weekend. ... Kerry Murphy from Hoover, Ala., said he will decide between Alabama and Miami on Wednesday depsite already committing to the Crimson Tide. ... McIntosh County Academy (Darien, Ga.) defensive end Allen Bailey announced Monday that he will attend Miami.

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