Top non-AQ recruiting closers

Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson

Recruiting is such an integral part of college football but even moreso at the nonautomatic qualifying schools. Those teams often have trouble attracting high-level recruits and if they do, bigger programs pick them off.

That’s why it’s important to recognize the top recruiting closers among the nonautomatic qualifying schools for their ability to secure high-level talent and see potential when others pass.

(Thanks to our friends over at Scouts Inc., for their help on this post.)

1.Turner Gill, Buffalo: The first thing Gill did when he took the job at Buffalo was secure the commitment of receiver Naaman Roosevelt. Since then, Roosevelt and several other high-level recruits have turned the Bulls from a non-name group into the reigning MAC champion.

2.Bronco Mendenhall, BYU: BYU is consistently among the nation’s best schools and the recent upset of No. 3 Oklahoma proves the type of talent in place. The Cougars are currently on pace for another stellar class led by quarterback Jake Heaps and defensive end Bronson Kaufusi.

3.Chris Petersen, Boise State: There’s no denying Petersen’s recruiting has maintained the level of success for the Broncos. Since taking over the team in 2006, Boise State has had two undefeated regular seasons, two WAC titles, and last year freshman quarterback Kellen Moore was a freshman All-American.

4.Kyle Whittingham, Utah: You don’t have an undefeated season in the Mountain West without a slew of talent. Whittingham has been crucial in recruiting players from both of the Utes undefeated seasons and the talent just continues to come, especially in the quarterbacking ranks and defense.

5.Larry Blakeney, Troy: Blakeney has spent 18 seasons with the Trojans, but since joining the FBS in 2002, the Trojans have had five draft picks and four of those have been in the first or second round. Blakeney believes there are a few more high draft picks on his roster right now.