TCU Daily Skiff Thursday, February 05, 2004
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USC, LSU sign nation’s top football recruiting classes
This year, championship seasons really did bring teams the country’s most talented recruits.


By Alan Robinson
Associated Press


College football’s recruiting race finished up exactly like the season did — with Southern California and LSU on top and everybody else chasing them.

Only this time, there’s no disputing Southern Cal is No. 1, according to five top recruiting services.

LSU was a strong second on national signing day, landing every top player it sought in its own state while adding to its already deep wide receiver corps.

Miami also made a strong rush Wednesday, but it was Southern Cal’s off-the-charts class that was the buzz of the college football world.

“USC’s recruiting class is the best in the 11 years I’ve been doing this,” said recruiting analyst Bobby Burton of rivals.com. “It’s the highest quality class you’re ever going to see.”

Gatorade and Parade national player of the year Jeff Byers of Loveland, Colo., leads coach Pete Carroll’s incoming freshmen. He had 56 sacks and 14 forced fumbles on defense.

The AP national champion Trojans signed two top California high school players in defensive end Jeff Schweiger and offensive lineman Thomas Herring. They also journeyed into recruiting hotbeds Ohio (wide receiver Fred Davis) and Florida (linebacker Keith Rivers) to land key recruits.

Allen Wallace of Prep Football Report called the Trojans’ recruiting class “phenomenal.”
“There are no all-regional players on their list, there are no second-list players there at all,” Wallace said. “USC never dipped below (the top level), even though they had great regional kids who wanted offers.”

LSU was much the same way, capitalizing on its USA Today/ESPN national championship with a recruiting class arguably just as good as last year’s top-ranked class.
The Tigers, already loaded at receiver, landed not one but three of the nation’s top pass catchers — Early Doucet of St. Martinville, La., Xavier Carter of Melbourne, Fla. and Lavelle Hawkins of Stockton, Calif.

Doucet scored 79 touchdowns and had 7,104 all-purpose yards in his high school career. Carter is one of the nation’s fastest sprinters and could be a future U.S. Olympian.
“It was a great year for receivers, and LSU got three of the best,” recruiting analyst Max Emfinger said. “You wonder why another receiver would want to go there, but the answer is they want to wear a national championship ring.”

LSU stayed in-state to land dominating 310-pound lineman Marlon Favorite, then went next door to sign massive 395-pound lineman Herman Johnson from Denton.

Student Sports.com’s Doug Huff, who has been tracking national high school recruiting since the 1960s, wasn’t surprised last season’s strongest teams — USC, LSU, Oklahoma — had big recruiting years.

“Recruits see teams in the big bowl games on national TV and atop the rankings, and that’s where they want to play,” he said.
 
 
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