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January 28, 2011

Roundtable: Top new coaching staffs

MORE ROUNDTABLES: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Full NSD coverage

Rivals.com football recruiting analysts weigh in on National Signing Day topics every day leading up to Feb. 2.

Which new coaching staff has done the best in a short amount of time?

Barry Every: That's a tough one. I'll go with either Stanford, which gained Wayne Lyons on national TV despite no coach, and kept James Vaughters committed. The Cardinal battled to keep prospects after popular coach Jim Harbaugh went to the NFL. Al Golden of Miami inherited a recruiting class of fewer than five and still has a chance to steal some kids in Florida.

Mike Farrell: I think Miami. I know it might not show when it comes to results unless the Hurricanes have a strong finish, but Al Golden is a hustler and a great recruiter. He has brought on a few guys on his staff who can really recruit and a few of the three-star guys they landed down the stretch will surprise. Plus they secured Anthony Chickillo and have lured a ton of top kids to Miami to at least look. Watch out for Miami in 2012.

Adam Gorney: Miami and Colorado have done a commendable job but I think Brady Hoke and the Michigan staff deserve the most recognition here. The Wolverines have kept Blake Countess, Justice Hayes and others in the class, and have added some nice pieces in the last week or so, including Detroit athlete Raymon Taylor. Hiring Greg Mattison as defensive coordinator was key to fixing the defense. There might have been a little bit of concern when Michigan hired Hoke - not the biggest name in coaching circles - but he's done a fine job so far.

Chris Nee: I'll give the nod to Miami, mainly because it immediately dealt with an issue of ignoring kids in the Miami area. Since the new staff arrived, the 'Canes have locked up 10 commitments with six of them coming from the Sunshine State. Most of all, Miami has worked hard in Broward and Miami-Dade to get back into the schools.

Keith Niebuhr: Michigan. The Wolverines took a major hit on the recruiting front after Rich Rodriguez was fired, but now Michigan seems to really be gaining some momentum. The Wolverines added some solid recruits in recent days, notably defensive end Keith Heitzman and cornerback Raymon Taylor. All of a sudden, it looks like a strong push at the end is possible.

Brian Perroni: Florida has gained some traction with top recruits since hiring Will Muschamp but the Gators have only landed one commitment so far under his watch. Michigan has done a good job under Brady Hoke. The Wolverines have added six commits in the last week and firmed up the pledge of four-star cornerback Blake Countess. They still have a very good shot to add even more talent such as four-star linebacker Leilon Willingham.

Of all the schools changing conferences, which one will benefit most from its new league on the recruiting front?

Barry Every: TCU will attract not only top kids in Texas but now kids on the Atlantic seaboard by moving to the Big East. Not to mention no current Big East school has staked a claim of dominance. I also believe Boise State will continue to roll in the Mountain West as long as coach Chris Petersen is at the helm.

Mike Farrell: I think Utah will benefit the most because it now can sell the automatic BCS tie-in and it can recruit more in California. Utah is already in the top 50 this year and ahead of a few Pac-12 teams. With the move, I think the Utes can jump to the middle of the Pac-12 in recruiting if they continue to have success on the field.

Adam Gorney: Utah is going to benefit by moving to the Pac-10 (soon to be Pac-12). Finally, the Utes are in a high-profile conference where the coaching staff can recruit Southern California and other areas they maybe would have had no luck previously. Think about this: In the last two weeks, three of the best players from the Los Angeles area - quarterback Michael Eubank, wide receiver Junior Pomee and cornerback Ryan Henderson - have visited Utah. That might not have happened without a move to the Pac-10. The flip side of that is the competition will be much better on the field and on the recruiting trail.

Chris Nee: I think TCU heading to the Big East. The Horned Frogs have a strong recruiting base already in Texas and will now add a recruiting base along parts of the Atlantic East and Southeast. With their name emerging among the nation's best programs on the field, Texas Christian may see a big benefit from the move.

Keith Niebuhr: In the short term, it's probably Utah. In the long term, I'll go with Colorado. The Utes' switch to the Pac-10 will help in recruiting, quite frankly, because it gives the program a little more credibility. With its inclusion into a BCS conference will come more media exposure, more marquee games and more games on major TV networks, all things recruits like. For Colorado, the move should help because it essentially allows the program to hit the re-set button. In its heyday, the Buffs recruited the West Coast exceptionally well. Now that Colorado will be playing West Coast teams, it becomes a more attractive option to prospects in talent-rich California.

Brian Perroni: I would think it would be Colorado. Though the Buffaloes have been playing in the Big 12, they have struggled to recruit the state of Texas as well as the rest of the conference. In their heyday Colorado heavily recruited the state of California. With much of the new Pac-12 based in California, they should be able to establish a strong presence in the state again.

What prospect claiming to be solid with a school has not convinced you?

Barry Every: I'm going with Stephon Tuitt. I think even though his mother believes that Notre Dame is in his best interest, he may just want to stay closer to home.

Mike Farrell: Chris Barnett. He's committed to Arkansas but has visited Miami and will now apparently visit Michigan this weekend. He could wait until after National Signing Day to decide and announce. He's always been an unpredictable kid and tough to read so I could see him flipping.

Adam Gorney: It's hard for me to believe Marcus Roberson is 100-percent committed to Texas Tech. The Red Raiders hired his uncle, Otis Mounds, and one can argue it was a ploy to land the Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas standout. But it still might not be enough. Florida is making a push. Auburn doesn't seem to be giving up. With so many coaches pushing from other schools as well, I'd expect Roberson to think really hard about his Texas Tech pledge.

Chris Nee: Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Boyd Anderson linebacker Kent Turene. I expect the USC commitment to end up at a school in the SEC, and not likely at Southern Cal.

Keith Niebuhr: Linebacker Kent Turene has been committed to Southern California since last summer, but he continues to be courted by other programs and take official visits. Turene claims he's still a Trojans commit, but it looks as if Georgia, Nebraska and possibly Texas Tech are all still in the mix. At this point, where he ultimately lands is anyone's guess.

Brian Perroni: Rivals100 running back Herschel Sims is a longtime Oklahoma State commit but he never ruled out visits to other schools. Recently his head coach came out and said that Sims has firmed up his commitment to the Cowboys. While I think he will end up signing with them, I have a feeling he is still at least listening to other schools. He had too much of a wandering eye for it to just have suddenly stopped this week.

Which recent assistant coaching move has made the most impact on the 2011 class?

Barry Every: I think it's too early to tell, though Manny Diaz moving to Texas really crushed Mississippi State with C.J. Johnson. Look for Gunter Brewer to get really involved with kids as Ole Miss could finish strong after a poor season on the field.

Mike Farrell: Stan Drayton could have the biggest impact or at least one of the biggest impacts if Curtis Grant goes to Ohio State over Florida and Ja'Juan Story flips from the Gators to the Buckeyes. But for me it has been Jeff Hafley's move from Pittsburgh, where he was left twisting in the wind after Dave Wannstedt got fired, to Rutgers. Hafley was the main reason Pitt was killing it in New Jersey. He also is a major reason why Miles Shuler committed earlier than expected and why Gary Nova and Lafayette Pitts are on board. And if they close with Savon Huggins and Marquise Wright, Hafley will have a hand in that as well.

Adam Gorney: Florida's hire of Charlie Weis was definitely one of the biggest. Fans in Gainesville had tired of offensive coordinator and line coach Steve Addazio - fairly or unfairly - and with a new, first-time head coach coming in to replace Urban Meyer, it was important to hire a big-timer to run the offense. Weis always thrived in coordinator roles.

Chris Nee: It wasn't so much a hire, as a promotion, but Texas Tech's decision to retain and promote defensive graduate assistant Otis Mounds to cornerbacks coach. With that move, it helped the Red Raiders land the commitment of Rivals100 defensive back Marcus Roberson and also gave them a strong presence in the Sunshine State, where Mounds remains very popular.

Keith Niebuhr: I'll go with the move made by former Mississippi State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who left for Texas earlier this month. After that move, C.J. Johnson quickly de-committed and eventually picked archrival Ole Miss.

Brian Perroni: It is really only an assistant coaching change for one year but West Virginia hiring Dana Holgorsen as offensive coordinator and head coach in waiting has already paid dividends. Recruits seem excited about the up-tempo offense he brings with him. The Mountaineers have added commitments from four-star running back Andrew Buie and sleeper running back prospect Dustin Garrison since Holgorsen arrived.

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