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June 13, 2005
No summer vacation
The calendar says it's only June, and for most of the teams across the country, that means it's time for summer camps. It's time away from campus for some rest and relaxation.
But for the coaches at UCLA, Georgia and Texas, this time of year has hardly been a vacation. The Bruins, Dawgs and Longhorns have gotten a monster start on 2006 recruiting classes, leaving other programs in their wake.
That's especially true in Austin, Texas, where Mack Brown and Co. secured commitment No. 21 over the weekend from quarterback Sherrod Harris.
The 6-foot-2, 206-pound Harris took the Lone Star State by storm as a sophomore. He had a great season, throwing for 1,469 yards and 17 scores and rushing for an additional 489 yards. Things were a little more difficult as a junior as he was the main focus of every opposing defensive coordinator, and his stats suffered accordingly.
Still, Harris has the talent to be the perfect fit for the Longhorn offense. He has a big arm and you're not going to find a more intelligent quarterback in the country (4.0 GPA and a 1310 on the SAT).
But Harris' pledge is only a piece of the puzzle for UT.
The Horns have five commitments from players ranked in the Rivals100 at this point, including commitments from five-star players Sergio Kindle and Eddie Jones. Kindle and Jones are the top two players in Texas and then when you add in the pledge of running back Emmanuel Moody, ranked No. 32 on the national list, Texas has the top three players in the state locked up.
Things could only get better next week when the rest of the Texas top 100 is released and don't be surprised if you see quite a few UT commitments littered throughout the list.
Down in Athens, Ga., things were hardly calm over the weekend.
On Saturday, UGA picked up commitments from offensive lineman Kevin Perez, fullback Shaun Chapas and athlete Ronnie Tyler. Then on Monday morning word got out that the Dawgs had landed another pledge from North Carolina defensive tackle Ricardo Crawford.
Crawford's commitment gives UGA 11 commitments and it's an impressive group for sure.
Leading the class so far is five-star quarterback commitment Matthew Stafford. The 6-3, 210-pounder from Dallas Highland Park is ranked as the nation's No. 2 signal-caller and the No. 17 player overall. UGA also has commitments from six players ranked in the Rivals.com Georgia top 75, including offensive lineman Justin Anderson and defensive end Brandon Wood. Anderson is the No. 5 player in the state and Wood is right behind him at six.
UGA looks to be in good shape with quite a few other elite in-state players, but don't be surprised if you see the Dawgs pass on Marcus Ball, Bo Harris and Chris Slaughter - all players ranked high on the state list - because of question marks with their academic situation.
Even if the Dawgs pass on those kids, look for UGA to be up there with Texas when things move even further ahead in the recruiting season because the class is already stacked with big-time talent. Along with the very good talent they did get in state, Perez is a top 50 player in Florida and Tyler is the No. 5 player in South Carolina.
Out West with UCLA it's been all about the offensive linemen.
After watching the Bruins get out-muscled in the Las Vegas Bowl last season by Wyoming, UCLA knew it needed to improve its offensive line with not only big kids but with guys that can be physical and move around.
That's exactly what the Bruins have gotten so far in its class of 11 players. Seven of the commitments in the group come on the offensive line, including highly regarded prospects Sean Sheller of Walnut, Calif., and Walter Watts of Los Banos, Calif. La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat lineman Brandon Bennett is also a heck of a player and like many others he mentioned line coach Tom Cable as a big reason why he picked the Bruins early on.
"I like his coaching style and his philosophy," Bennett said. "He knows that he had to improve the talent there at UCLA on the line, and I think he's done a great job with the guys in this class so far. I'm excited to be part of such a talented group."
Even though signing day is still a long way off in the distance, Texas, Georgia and UCLA have put themselves in great spots to sign elite classes. Sure their summer vacations had to wait a little while, but we'll see what coaches are the most relaxed come February.