Kibbles and bits about the freshly inked classes of recruits of TCU and its opponents:
Air Force is an out-of-state school that flexes the Texas connection better than most of the others. Its 13 Texan signees (caveat: because AFA signees must jump through more than the usual number of hoops actually to enroll at the Academy, its incoming freshman class is not known until fall) are tied with OU for the second biggest class of Texans enrolling elsewhere. Oklahoma State inked 24 Texans. The Falcons also signed six quarterbacks (quite to Gary Patterson's tastes). Tim Jefferson and Connor Dietz are a senior and a junior, respectively, so expect at least a couple of these freshmen to remain quarterbacks in college. Many of the Falcons' commits would have attracted a lot more offers if they had a couple more inches on them. The classic case: QB Dano Graves is a MaxPreps national player of the year, accounting for 85 touchdowns last seasons (good grief!). And he's 5'9" and got one 1A offer. He took it.
Baylor stocked up on linemen, signing nine players for the trenches, including the star of the class, OL Spencer Drango. With Danny Watkins' and Phil Taylor's graduation, there's room for a freshman or two to contribute right away. Receiver Jonathan Lee will be hard to keep off the field.
Boise State graduated 19 players and signed 23. Four will grayshirt.
BYU didn't repeat it's 2010 haul of highly-rated skill players. Instead it is hyping its class as a group of "foundation" guys, most of who whom will play defense. Mendenhall says he's as excited about the coach he just hired as he is about this year's class, and then he pointed out 14 missionaries return before August drills. Do you get the feeling the Cougars are a little disappointed in the immediate returns independence has brought them?
Colorado State is another of the MWC out-of-staters that camps out in Texas for recruits, inking 10 Texans in this year's class. Two new Rams are repeat-signers with CSU: DB Drew Reilly is back from a Mormon mission, and QB Garrett Grayson, who grayshirted.
New Mexico signed 20, its limit for the last year, as it emerges from sanctions. The class is big on o-linemen (six signed) and features five players from the DC/Maryland area-- a Locksley signature. Winning isn't necessarily high on these players' agendas, as evidenced by their commitments to the Lobos. And by QB Dustin Walton's assessment of his college future: "it's exciting,'' Walton said. "Even if I don't play in the long run, I've got my school paid for and I'll have some fun.'' If the last two seasons are any indication, Walton ought to expect to play very early, but miss much of the season due to injury. Such is life as a Lobo quarterback these days.
San Diego State would like you to know that it doesn't buy into the hype. And that's a good thing, because the hype isn't buying into San Diego State, either. Rivals only rated three incoming Aztecs over a modest 5.5 in its infamous star system. In other news, the Aztecs have another runningback on campus who missed his classmates' freshman years because of an admissions snafu. Last year it was Ronnie Hillman (rated a 5.5 by Rivals). This year it's Dwayne Garrett, who is also rated a 5.5, but who is not expected to oust the sophomore from the lineup in August.
SMU signed 28 players, having just graduated 12. That math flummoxes DCTF's writer, but isn't so dubious if one considers the six non-qualifiers in SMU's '10 class, two more who quit before school started, an early departure for the NFL, several who flunked or are about to flunk out, a couple early-enrollers who count toward's last year's total... and suddenly those 28 have not 12, but 24 or 25 spots for them all. Add a repeat of last year's admissions-standards scandal, and there'll be no need for grayshirts on the Hilltop this season. SMU either is doing something really right, or really wrong.
TCU will be expected by the usual cast of uninformed commentators to face an uphill battle once it joins a cartel conference in 2012. Thankfully it'll be able to cast aside its non-AQ label and start recruiting with the Big Boys once it gets there. What's that? The 2011 Horned Frog class would be rated the best class in the Big East, were the Frogs already in that conference? By both Rivals and Scout? The list is impressive. DT Chuck Hunter turned down LSU for TCU; WR Brandon Carter switched from OU to TCU a couple weeks before signing day; S Jamie Byrd switched from Boise State. That list goes on and on. Freshman contributors are more likely to come from the defensive backs (Quincy Aldridge, James Bailey, Chris Hackett, Kolby Griffin, Jaime Byrd, and Jason Verrett) defensive tackles (Chuck Hunter, Davion Pierson, John Lewis) and wide receivers (Cam White, David Bush, Brandon Carter, David Porter III, Ladarius Brown). The only quarterback in the class who'll play quarterback in college, Trey Boykin, is expected to redshirt. (QBs Chatzen Gonzales will be a safety; Dominic Merka a tight end, David Bush a wide receiver.) So Andy Dalton's replacement has been on campus all along; it's either Dalton's backup, Casey Pachall, or Matt Brown, who redshirted in '10. Yogi Gallegos transferred away.
UNLV turned to that maker or breaker of coaches, large groups of JUCO transfers, to fill its 2011 class. Eight new Rebels are JUCO transfers, including four from College of the Sequoias in California: OL Allen Carroll, DT Louvan Green, RB Eric Johnson and DB Ken Spigner. Of those, Green was the dominant playmaker. He also is a man of action, not words; his faxed letter of intent surprised the UNLV coaches, who hadn't heard from the big tackle for weeks, and assumed he was headed elsewhere. QB Sean Reilly, another JUCO transfer, enrolled for spring drills. One effect of so many transfers is that Coach Hauck expects all 15 high school signees to redshirt in 2011. That'll be a different ethic in Las Vegas, where 14 freshman played in 2010.
Wyoming has two quarterbacks on the team this spring, neither of them named Austyn Carta-Samuels or Dax Crum. (For the record, they are Emory Miller and Brett Smith. Miller redshirted in '10.) They'll be joined by Adam Pittser in the fall, who is the highest rated QB (and any other position) to enroll at Wyoming in the history of the Rivals database. The Cowboy quarterback of the future will have five brand new receivers in the lineup.