Roundtables galore this week! Welcome to a special signing day edition of the Big Ten Bloggers roundtable hosted by Dave of Maize n Brew. Check with him on Monday for a roundup of everyone's answers.
1. As a general question, evaluate your recruiting class. Is it more or less what you expected, were you pleasantly surprised or horribly, horribly disappointed? Were your team's needs adequately addressed or will you be starting a two star running back at center next year?
Penn State didn't have many scholarships to play with this year. Through much of the recruiting season it looked like we were probably going to end up with around 12 new players. As is usually the case a few seniors decided they weren't going to come back next year and it ticked up to about 15-17 scholarships available. But Penn State only signed 14 players (so far), so right off the bat you have to wonder why we're letting scholarships go to waste in a year with an already small class. But I guess this is better than locking up less than average talent for the next four years.
Overall it was a good class, but not a great class. I called it a meat and potatoes class in my analysis. It's heavy on linemen and linebackers. They are the types of players that really win the games for you, but they don't bring in the flashy signing day report cards the recruiting sites like to give out.
Penn State more than adequately filled their need at linebacker. We got a good running back and a good wide receiver which were both big needs for us, but truthfully we needed another of each to really fill our needs. The offensive tackles we signed weren't exactly big names, but then it's hard to evaluate offensive linemen. So overall we did ok, but we came up short in some areas.
2. Who were the big catches in your recruiting class? Name two players matriculating to your school whose existence everyone else in the Big Ten will curse for the next four years.
Remember the name D'Anton Lynn. It's French for "Of Anton". He was a four star defensive back for Celina, Tx that was recruited by Oklahoma, Southern Cal, Ohio State, and Florida. He took his team to the state title and played with a broken shoulder blade. The kid is tough, and he's going to be laying the wood to all of your wide receivers. Penn State has to figure out if they are going to play him at safety or cornerback. With Justin King leaving for the NFL and Knowledge Timmons and Willie Harriot working their way out of the dog house he may see the field pretty early.
At linebacker Mike Mauti will probably be making all the award show rounds in a few years as the next great Penn State linebacker. Being from Louisiana he kind of flew under the radar, but everyone who has seen this kid play says he's the real deal. The coaches from the US Army AA game raved about him.
3. You can't win them all. Maybe some slick talking carpetbagger schmoozed his way into your living room, sold you a set of ginzu knives made out of tin foil, and walked off with your wife and your star recruit. Perhaps an in-state lock who grew up with [Insert University Here] posters on his wall and your coach's face tattooed on his arm decided to go elsewhere for reasons no one seems to understand? Did your recruiting class lose someone big on signing day, who was it, and was your school able to yoink someone else to cover his loss?
Obviously losing Mike Shaw to Michigan on signing day hurt, but the more I think about it the more I think we won't miss him too badly. With Royster, Green, Carter, and Beachum we have a good group of backs with plenty of eligibility.
The fish I really wish we hadn't let get away was Deion Walker. He would have been perfect for us and probably could have played right away. Somehow Charlie Weis hypnotized him by jiggling his fat chins and convinced him to go to Notre Dame. We got A.J. Price who should be a fine wide receiver, but we needed two, and we never found one to replace Walker.
4. There's been a spirited debate about this whole "Coaches' Code" among the members of the Big Ten coaching fraternity. Do you believe this exists or is it a line being floated by the guys who couldn't keep their recruiting classes together? Bonus points for declaring your coach a poacher or a poachee in creative fashion!
Geez, Dave. Are you trying to bait me into poking the MGoBlog minions again? Things were just getting back to normal around here.
I said it before so I'll say it again. I had heard about a coaches' agreement long before Joe Tiller blabbed it last week. It was said by someone with major ties to the program and recruiting scene. This wasn't just your regular schmuck claiming insider ties either. This was a person who gets paid for this stuff. I don't think it's that hard to imagine that the coaches of a league would get together and make a pact like that. It makes all of their lives easier if they know once a kid verbals to them they don't have to worry about other schools putting the full court press on them. But it takes restraint to not go after the other guy's kids. But as new faces come into the conference it's easy to see that holding together a pact like that would get harder and harder.
Maybe it exists and maybe it doesn't. Brian pointed out several instances where kids switched their commitment between Big Ten schools. But not every case is unethical if the kid is genuinely having second thoughts. But it's rare to see a kid jump from one Big Ten school to another, and all the cases Brian brought up are pretty recent. So maybe there was a pact at one time which the old timers like Tiller and Paterno are honoring while newer coaches like Zook and Rodriguez have no intention of tying their own hands.
5. Finally, who's the slickest, smoovest, most Billy Dee Williamsesque recruiter in the Big Ten? Who's the worst, most incompetent, "trip over the flat tire on his Yugo" recruiter in the Big Ten?
It has to be Ron Zook. They went from being the laughing stock of the conference with some of the worst facilities in the country to suddenly pulling in top ten recruiting classes over night. He's a salesman, that's fo' sho'. Fortunately for the rest of the Big Ten he can't coach x's and o's worth a lick.