I checked in with my colleagues at ESPN Recruiting Nation with a few questions about where the Big East stands in terms of recruiting. Tom Luginbill, Craig Haubert and Corey Long were kind enough to answer some of my biggest questions.
1. Why is USF going the junior college route? The Bulls have picked up five commitments from junior college players in the last several weeks. They only have 10 commitments from high school players, lowest among all Big East schools. Jupiter (Fla.) quarterback Tyler Cameron recently flipped his decision from USF to Wake Forest.
"I don't necessarily feel it's a reflection of a big philosophical change," Luginbill said. "I just think it's something as they examined their roster after Year 2, they feel they need significant help that can't be alleviated with young guys."
Added Long: "USF has immediate needs along the offensive line and in the secondary. Right now, the Bulls have just one offensive line commit out of high school and will also need at least one of the incoming freshmen at defensive back -- Chris Bivins or Jalen Spencer -- to provide immediate help in the secondary. The junior college players they are bringing in will be expected to compete right away and are pretty much guaranteed significant playing time."
2. Do any of the Big East teams have a chance at cracking the Top 25 list for their overall class? Pitt briefly made an appearance at the end of November on the strength of the commitment of Rushel Shell, but the Panthers were quickly bumped out when other teams picked up steam. Nobody knows how the departure of Todd Graham will affect them, but Haubert says if the class stays intact and Pitt picks up a few more key players, the Panthers could have a Top 25 class.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers have been just outside the Top 25 since the summer. Long likes quarterback Ford Childress, and says safety Sean Walters is one of the top sleeper prospects in the state of Florida. He also notes West Virginia is getting bigger at defensive back, which helps with its move to the Big 12.
Louisville: Long believes the Cardinals might have a shot at the Top 25 if they are able to pull four-star linebacker Keith Brown from his Illinois commitment. Brown recently took an official visit to Louisville.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights are still in the mix for several top prospects in New Jersey, so that could boost them as well.
Luginbill provided his quick thoughts on each class:
Cincinnati: Has a huge class with 30 commitments, including a ton of quality with one four-star (S Marcus Foster) and 22 three-stars (QB Bennie Coney, WR Nathan Cole). The Bearcats obviously have done well in the Midwest but also in Florida.
UConn: The Huskies got the No. 1 player in the state, quarterback Casey Cochran, a high three-star. They got most of of their 19 commits (no four-stars, only six three-stars) over the late spring and summer. Though they haven't been very active this fall and winter, they are getting another quarterback in Chandler Whitmer, out of Butler Community College.
Louisville: The Cardinals have three four-stars (S Gerod Holliman, sleeper CB Devontre Parnell, OG Abraham Garcia) and nine three-stars (high three-star QB Will Gardner). Coach Charlie Strong is once again doing well in Florida and Georgia.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers have arguably the top Big East class with 19 commits, including four four-stars (Rushel Shell, QB Chad Voytik, ATH Demitrious Davis, OT Adam Bisnowaty) and 10 three-stars (small, speedy ATH Corey Jones).
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights have a small class so far (15 commits) but all are quality kids with three four-stars (ATH Davion Jacobs, OT Chris Muller, ATH Steve Longa, OC Brandon Arcidiacono) and 12 three-stars (WR Leonte Carroo is one of them). All the commits are from the spring and summer.
USF: It's a small class but some nice quality with three four-stars (TE Sean Price, CB Chris Bivins, DT James Hamilton an FSU decommitment) and five three-stars (ATH D'Vario Montgomery).
Syracuse: The Orange have a large class but no four-stars and only 10 three-stars (TE Ron Thompson). They are spreading out their efforts with kids from New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers are probably just behind Pitt with the second-best Big East class. Childress, ATH Albert Reid and LB Sam Lebbie are other four-stars. They also have 16 three-stars (ATH Deontay McManus).