Getting defensive in South Bend

Let's get right to the questions this week.

It looks as if Brian Kelly has improved recruiting at ND. Not saying that Charlie Weis was bad at recruiting, but he did tend to go after highly-touted offensive recruits and forgot often times (or so it seemed) about defensive recruits. What can ND fans look forward too with this upcoming class? There seems to be some more bulk on both lines with this class.
Gary Barnard

You can expect more size and more athleticism on defense for starters. Kelly has recruited some players on defense that can run. I expect Aaron Lynch (Cape Coral, Fla./Island Coast), Anthony Rabasa (Miami, Fla./Christopher Columbus) and Stephon Tuitt (Monroe, Ga./Monroe Area) to all contribute next year and the defense will be better immediately with that infusion of athleticism. I like this class overall, especially at defensive line, outside linebacker and in the secondary. It's a great start for Kelly and the staff.

Mr. Long, Which prospect(s) do you feel will surprise everyone with his decision?
Noah Bercey, Lincoln, Neb.

Well that's a little hard to say because there's a good chance they would surprise me too. Do I think there will be a high-level prospect opting for a non-BCS school (i.e. Calvin Smith) out there in 2011? I doubt it. But there's definitely a good chance for a surprise switch on national signing day. If there was one prospect out there that could go against the grain a little I would say five-star DE Ray Drew (Thomasville, Ga./Thomas County Central) if only because each of his top teams feel as if they are the team to beat.

Hey Corey, can you tell me how USC recruiting will do this year? Where do you think USC will finish in the Pac-10? Nationwide?
Monique M., California

The Trojans will have some losses on the field, but I still believe Southern Cal will haul in the top class in the Pac-10 and be around the top-10 nationally. Currently the Trojans are No. 13 with 11 verbal commitments.

Hey Corey, I was wondering what your take was on Georgia's recruiting this year. The Bulldogs are having a terrible year, but have been victim of some unfortunate circumstances with a young quarterback and without A.J. Green early on. How much do you think their record is going to affect their recruiting, especially when it comes to big names like Isaiah Crowell (Columbus, Ga./Carver) and Drew?
Alex Nichols, Atlanta, Ga.

First, I think Georgia's class is very good. It's definitely top-10 nationally and the Bulldogs have done a very good job with the in-state prospects (12 of their 16 verbal commitments are from Georgia).

However, the on-field performance is concerning as is Mark Richt's future with the program. It sounds silly to speculate over a coach that's won as much as he has, but such is life in big-time college football.

Crowell and Drew they are probably going to take a wait-and-see approach. If Richt does survive there's no question he's going to have to make staff replacements and if he doesn't they are going to have to find a better replacement, which might not be as easy as some detractors think.

Hey Corey, What are the chances my Seminoles have a top three recruiting class?
James Frison, Orlando, Fla.

Very slim, but not impossible. They would have to pull off an inside straight and sign DT Tim Jernigan (Lake City, Fla./Columbia), TE Nick O'Leary (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer), WR Kelvin Benjamin (Belle Glade, Fla./Glades Central) and probably get S Hasean Clinton-Dix (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips) to switch from Alabama. One of those four things happening is very possible, but all four is highly unlikely. The Seminoles will finish somewhere between No. 5 and 8.

I appreciate your coverage and articles on high school players in Florida. How does Jake Rudock (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) rank nationally among 2011 high school quarterbacks? I read your article. He sounds good. I'm just a Hawkeye fan that's curious about our recruiting.
Bryson DeTrent

Rudock is currently the No. 25-ranked quarterback in the nation and he actually might be a little underrated. In my mind, he's about as good a fit in the position for Iowa that there is. He's a drop-back passer who's very accurate with the short-to-immediate throws. Plus, he can move a little and he is patient enough to stay within the offense and take chances when the opportunity presents itself. St. Thomas Aquinas is a run-first team and it likes to establish physical dominance along the line before striking through the air. That's very similar to what Iowa does. I think Hawkeye fans will love Rudock.

What do you think USC's chances are of landing Cyrus Kouandjio (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha Catholic), Cyrus Hobbi (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro) and Doran Grant (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary's)?
Dillon Grubb, Charlestown, Ind.

I think their chances of landing one are going to be very slim. Grant looks like he's down to Michigan State and Ohio State. I think Hobbi is very interested in Washington and I just don't believe Kouandjio is going to go that far away and could join his brother in Tuscaloosa. The Trojans best chance is probably with Hobbi.

Do you think Miami will get Sammy Watkins (Fort Myers, Fla./South Fort Myers), O'Leary and Jabari Gorman (Miami, Fla./Monsignor Pace)?
Stacey Webber, Memphis, Tenn.

I think all three are must signs and they are in the top three for each player. I believe right now that Watkins and Gorman will sign with Miami. O'Leary is the wild card and he's going to be tough to place because he keeps everything so close to the vest.

Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at coreyespn@gmail.com.