It's easy to say head coaches are the reason why a team has a successful recruiting class. Yet any college football connoisseur knows the backbone is the assistant coach who spends countless hours making calls, in-home visits and wooing top recruits.
Rivals.com goes deeper into each conference to name our top 10 recruiters in the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC and Non-Big Six conferences.
Dameyune Craig, Florida State Buzz: Craig, who is Florida State's quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator, went for quality over quantity. He also raided one of the toughest states in the nation from which to pull top-tier prospects (Alabama) and landed three of its best. The Alabama haul includes Hueytown five-star quarterback Jameis Winston, Mobile Davidson four-star weakside defensive end Chris Casher and Prattville four-star defensive tackle Justin Shanks - all Rivals250 prospects that were pursued by Alabama and Auburn. He also dipped into Georgia and landed four-star Rivals100 linebacker Ukeme Eligwe.
Shane Beamer, Virginia Tech Buzz: In his first year back at Virginia Tech, Beamer landed nearly one-third of Virginia Tech's class on his own, pulling eight commitments. Beamer was given the Richmond area and promptly hauled in six of the metro's best prospects including Rivals250 prospects Deon Clarke and top 100 recruit Joel Caleb on National Signing Day. Beamer went out of state too landing two more recruits from Pennsylvania including four-star tailback Drew Harris. Coming from the SEC in South Carolina, Beamer showed his talent to go anywhere and recruit.
Mark D'Onofrio, Miami Buzz: Miami had an unusually large class of 33 players this year and D'Onofrio was Al Golden's right-hand guy in heading up talent evaluation, then getting involved in the recruitment of many of the players in the class. D'Onofrio, Miami's defensive coordinator, was the lead recruiter in Broward County and had a strong hand in landing four-star defensive end Jelani Hamilton from St. Thomas Aquinas, outdueling Wisconsin for Cypress Bay guard Daniel Isidora and also landing linebacker Josh Witt. He also pitched in with other staffers on the recruitment of several other members of the class including five-star Tracy Howard and four-stars Deon Bush and Raphael Kirby, among others.
Odell Haggins, Florida State Buzz: Haggins was a big closer on National Signing Day as the Seminoles' defensive line coach landed the commitments and signatures of Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate Academy five-star defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and Oxon Hill (Md.) Potomac four-star cornerback Ronald Darby. He also helped to switch Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast four-star outside linebacker Reggie Northrup away from Miami to the Seminoles on National Signing Day. DeFuniak Springs (Fla.) Walton three-star defensive tackle Dalvon Stuckey was one that Haggins had no drama in landing, as he wrapped up his commitment extremely early in the process.
George McDonald, Miami Buzz: McDonald entered the recruiting year with a modest reputation as a recruiter, but put himself on the map in a big-time way by making a massive contribution to Miami's top 10 recruiting class of 33 signees. McDonald took a lead role in landing Miami's two five-star recruits, defensive back Tracy Howard from Miramar (Fla.) and running back Randy Johnson from Miami Norland. In between, the Hurricanes' receivers coach made sure he shored up his huge position of need. He was the primary recruiter of four-star receiver prospects Malcolm Lewis of Miramar and Robert Lockhart of Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, along with three-star receiver D'Mauri Jones of Leesburg, Fla. McDonald also assisted on three-star receiver prospect Herb Waters of Miami Homestead and three-star Georgia receiver Jontavious Carter. He also added four-star prospect Ereck Flowers of Miami Norland and in the defensive backfield by recruiting cornerback Larry Hope from Miami American.
Jeff Scott, Clemson Buzz: Scott, one of the top recruiters in the ACC last year, has an impressive haul in the class of 2012 as well. He was the lead recruiter for two four-star prospects, Travis Blanks from Tallahassee (Fla.) North Florida Christian and Kevin Dodd from Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy, and he assisted on the commitment of Charlotte (N.C.) O'Berry wide receiver Germone Hopper. Scott also brought in three-stars Patrick Destefano and Jay Jay McCullough. Clemson once again finished with one of the top classes in the ACC and Scott played a big role.
Chip West, Virginia Buzz: For the second year in a row, UVa did well in the state of Virginia on the back of West's efforts in the vaunted 757. This year, he brought in the Commonwealth's No. 1 player, Eli Harold, as well as another four-star prospect and one of the top inside linebackers in the nation, Kwontie Moore. All told, West played an integral role in the 10 players from the 757 that UVa signed and added three-stars Anthony Cooper, Mark Hall, Courtnye Wynn, Mario Nixon and others.
Jeff Hafley, Rutgers Buzz: Prior to the arrival of Hafley, the relationship between Rutgers and perennial national power Don Bosco was lukewarm at best. Hafley brought two Don Bosco recruits to Rutgers shortly after being hired last year, and he followed that up this year by getting commitments from five-star Darius Hamilton and four-star Leonte Carroo, both top five prospects in state. He was credited with commitments from Davon Jacobs, Julian Pinnix-Odrick and Steve Longa. But perhaps most impressive was his efforts to keep the Scarlet Knights' recruiting class together upon the defection of coach Greg Schiano to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers six days before National Signing Day. Hafley clearly led Rutgers to a Top 25 recruiting class and the top spot in the Big East.
Brian Angelichio, Rutgers Buzz: Angelichio hit Eastern Pennsylvania hard and put a big dent in the recruiting classes of Big Ten schools Penn State and Wisconsin. He landed U.S. Army All-American offensive lineman Chris Muller, who was thought to be a Nittany Lion lean at the time, and he stole away fellow tackle J.J. Denman, who was committed to Wisconsin. Angelichio also added three-star teammates Brandon Arcidiacono and Desmon Peoples, and pulled in quarterback Blake Rankin. He was a key part in Rutgers' No. 1 class - and keeping it together.
Don Brown, Connecticut Buzz: The UConn defensive coordinator was responsible for signing three different three-star prospects for the Huskies, including linebacker Jason Sylva, who had an offer from his dream school Boston College. He also signed Massachusetts sleeper Obi Melifonwu, who was coveted by the Eagles, and Florida wide receiver Ricky Gutierrez late in the process. Kansas had offered Gutierrez, while Illinois and Purdue were close. Brown also had a hand in landing three-star defenders Jazzmar Clax and Mikal Myers.
Mark Elder, Cincinnati Buzz: Elder, the running backs coach and recruiting coordinator, was involved with five different three-star recruits, with a few of them among the highest-ranked players in the class. He also did excellent work out of state landing Nathan Cole and Alex Dale from Tennessee, both with SEC offers. Elder went into Florida and took out Ti'On Green, who had some very nice offers as well. Deshawn Dowdy was a big get as well, stealing him from his commitment to Maryland.
Robert Gillespie, West Virginia Buzz: The Mountaineers have always done a lot of work in the Sunshine State and their lead man with Florida kids in the 2012 class was Gillespie. Gillespie had a good deal of success playing a key role in at least 10 commitments from Florida that are now bound for Morgantown. The prospects that he helped to send north included a talented pair of three-star running backs in Roshard Burney from Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) and Torry Clayton from Homestead (Fla.) South Dade. He also landed the services of talented Port St. Lucie (Fla.) Treasure Coast three-star athlete Travares Copeland, who will likely end up at wide receiver for the Mountaineers.
Clint Hurtt, Louisville Buzz: Hurtt landed nine commitments for the Cardinals, including a pair of four-star prospects. The Louisville defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator's two top pulls both originally hail from the Miami area in Miami Norland four-star linebacker Keith Brown and four-star cornerback Gerod Holliman, who prepped at New Berlin (N.Y.) Milford Academy after graduating from Miami Southridge. Hurtt's Miami-area connections ran deep as he also landed Homestead three-star linebacker James Burgess Jr., Fort Lauderdale University School three-star offensive lineman Abraham Garcia, Miami Columbus three-star running back Brandon Radcliff, Homestead three-star defensive lineman Pedro Sibiea and Miami Gardens Carol City three-star wide receiver Brandon Snell. He also helped land Savannah (Ga.) Christian School three-star defensive tackle DeAngelo Brown from the Peach State.
Daron Roberts, West Virginia Buzz: Roberts arrived in West Virginia with a late start in the recruiting game around spring practice, but it didn't hurt his efforts. In his first year as a collegiate coach, he proved that he was more than just a capable recruiter playing a major role in reeling in the Mountaineers highest-rated commitment in wideout Deontay McManus and perhaps the most college-ready recruit in linebacker Sam Lebbie. Roberts also used his experience in the state of Texas to secure a summer commitment from defensive end Noble Nwachukwu. Most importantly, however, was the role Roberts played in helping to keep the class together on the defensive side of the ball after the departures of three coaches to Arizona. Roberts picked up on commitments such as defensive lineman Christian Brown and athlete Brandon Napoleon, among others, and helped to keep them in the fold.
Joe Rudolph, Pittsburgh Buzz: Rudolph started the recruiting cycle by getting Wisconsin off to one of its best starts in recent memory and when he came over to Pitt with head coach Paul Chryst, he was the do-it-all recruiter for the Panthers. He helped keep four-star quarterback Chad Voytik in the fold and was instrumental in visiting four-star running back Rushel Shell and Adam Bisnowaty on board as well. Rudolph also helped Pitt close on Deaysean Rippy and Bam Bradley down the stretch as Chryst's right-hand man and assistant head coach.
Greg Mattison, Michigan Buzz: It did not take Mattison long to shake off the recruiting rust after spending three years in the NFL. The former Baltimore Raven's defensive coordinator stepped in and immediately made an impact in the final month of the 2011 recruiting class, then came out and started the 2012 class on fire, landing commitments from eight prospects (one five-star, five four-stars and two three-stars) before the end of July. The crown jewel in that group was five-star offensive tackle Kyle Kalis, whom Mattison was able to flip from Big Ten rival Ohio State, then hold onto after Urban Meyer came to Columbus and tried to re-recruit Kalis back the Buckeyes. With the addition of Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville three-star defensive tackle Willie Henry in the final week of the process, Mattison was the lead or secondary recruiter in nine of the Wolverine's 25 signees in the 2012 class.
MORE RIVALS.COM TOP 10 RECRUITERS IN THE BIG TEN
Randy Bates, Northwestern Buzz: Northwestern signed its first ever Rivals100 prospect in the class of 2012 and Bates, the Wildcats' linebackers coach, was the man who got the job done. Four-star Centerville, Ohio, defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo, ranked as the No. 99 player in the country, held offers from the biggest name programs in college football, but was sold on the combination of academics and athletics in Evanston by Bates and the Wildcat's staff. Bates was also responsible for bringing in three-star cornerback Dwight White from Texas and three-star in-state defensive end Dean Lowry.
Lester Erb, Iowa Buzz: Iowa signed a solid class of 24 prospects that ranked as the No. 41 overall group in the country, but the class would have looked a lot different were it not for the efforts of Erb. The Hawkeyes' running backs and special teams coach was responsible for landing all four of Iowa's four-star prospects in the 2012 class - running back Greg Garmon, defensive end Faith Ekakitie, defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson and offensive lineman Ryan Ward. Three of those prospects hail from the Chicago area and there may not be a coach in the country who is recruiting the Windy City better than Erb right now. He also picked up versatile three-star athlete Maurice Fleming Jr. from that region, and landed punter Connor Kornbrath from West Virginia, who has a chance to start as a true freshman.
Luke Fickell, Ohio State Buzz: With no coaching responsibilities preparing for the bowl game, head coach Urban Meyer was able to devote the vast majority of his efforts to recruiting, and thus was responsible for the majority of the Buckeye's late run that vaulted them into the top five of the final team recruiting rankings. However, before Meyer was brought in on Nov. 28, Fickell not only was the interim head coach, but also responsible for holding onto a recruiting class in the wake of Jim Tressel's departure. The Fickell-led staff lost just one prospect committed before Tressel resigned and added seven commitments in six months, including five-star Adolphus Washington and four-stars De'van Bogard and Michael Thomas. Fickell also had a role in landing five-star defensive end Noah Spence in December.
Fred Jackson, Michigan Buzz: When he was brought in as head coach last winter, Brady Hoke tabbed long-time Michigan assistant Jackson to head up recruiting in Detroit and the southeast Michigan region. During his 20-year tenure as an assistant at Michigan Jackson has never been the lead recruiter in Detroit, but he moved seamlessly into the role and was the primary reason the Wolverines were able to land seven of the top ten prospects in their home state. Jackson was the lead recruiter on four-star linebackers Royce Jenkins-Stone and James Ross, and also landed three-stars Devin Funchess, Matthew Godin, Drake Johnson and Mario Ojemudia.
Larry Johnson, Penn State Buzz: There was not a more difficult situation to recruit to in the country than the one Penn State coaches faced since November. Overcoming the negative publicity that the Jerry Sandusky scandal placed on the program and dealing with the loss of iconic head coach Joe Paterno severely depleted the recruiting class the staff had built prior to November. But it did not completely destroy the class, and the main reason for that was the efforts of Johnson, the defensive line coach who was retained by new head coach Bill O'Brien. Johnson spearheaded the Nittany Lions' efforts to retain the 18 prospects committed before Paterno's resignation during a coaching search that dragged on for nearly two months. Several commitments were lost during that time, but Johnson's efforts gave O'Brien a base from which to build from when he arrived in early January. Johnson was also directly responsible for bringing many of the Nittany Lions' commitments on board, including four-star defensive tackle Jamil Pollard.
John Papuchis, Nebraska Buzz: Papuchis helped land long-time defensive tackle target Vincent Valentine, a process that went all the way until Signing Day. He was also a big reason the Huskers won out for defensive end Avery Moss, who had plenty of attention before and after he committed to Nebraska in late November. Papuchis was the lead recruiter on Rivals250 defensive end Greg McMullen and kept the big d-end from going elsewhere despite continued attention from several other schools. As the recruiting coordinator, Papuchis was everywhere during the in-home visit season and put the Huskers in position with a ton of top targets in the end. In such a small class, every coach pulled their weight putting together the class of 17, however, Papuchis was leading the effort from an organizational standpoint and out on the trail.
Mark Staten, Michigan State Buzz: Coaches are expected to land the top players in their home recruiting territories, but the mark of a great recruiter is being able to go into someone else's backyard and get talent that was highly coveted. Staten, Michigan State's offensive line coach, was able to do that twice in the class of 2012. Few teams came out on top in head-to-head battles with Urban Meyer in the final few weeks of the process, but Staten led Michigan State's efforts in securing Jeannette, Pa., four-star safety Demetrious Cox over the likes of Ohio State and Penn State - two teams with strong ties in Western Pa. He also went into Florida and grabbed speedy wide receiver MacGarrett Kings Jr. from the Sunshine State, who was offered and pursued by more than a dozen other BCS programs.
Mike Vrabel, Ohio State Buzz:Urban Meyer gets much of the credit for the great run towards the top of Ohio State for the class of 2012, but he couldn't have done it without Vrabel. Ohio State landed 10 of its 25 commitments after Meyer was hired and Vrabel played a key role with many of them. He led the charge with five-star Noah Spence, flipped Tommy Schutt from Penn State, lured David Perkins to Columbus and closed out on the Massachusetts duo of Camren Williams and Armani Reeves. The ex-Ohio State star is one of the best recruiters in the business.
Jim Zebrowski, Minnesota Buzz: It was really a group effort that allowed the Golden Gophers to dominate in-state recruiting in 2012, but Zebrowski, the quarterbacks coach, was responsible for landing the class' headliner - Mankato (Minn.) West quarterback Philip Nelson. Zebrowksi locked up Nelson not long after he came over with head coach Jerry Kill from Northern Illinois, and held onto the state's No. 2 ranked player for almost a full year. He then went out and convinced the state's second highest rated passer, Mitch Leidner, to sign with the Gophers and also went into Illinois to grab three-star linebacker Jack Lynn and into North Carolina to secure three-star wide receiver Jamel Harbison.
Jay Norvell, Oklahoma Buzz:The Sooner co-offensive coordinator and wide receiver coach helped Oklahoma land one of the best classes at the position in the history of the Rivals.com ranking. Norvell kept five-star wide receiver Trey Metoyer in the fold after he headed the prep school route for a semester. Most impressive, however, was the fact he was able to gain a commitment from Rivals100 receiver Durron Neal, beating nearby Missouri and longtime favorite Alabama. He also landed U.S. Army All-American Derrick Woods from California, who many said would never leave the West Coast, as well as Under Armour All-American Sterling Shepard. He then pulled a big signing-day coup when four-star junior college receiver Courtney Gardner switched from his longtime Arkansas pledge to sign with Oklahoma.
MORE RIVALS.COM TOP 10 RECRUITERS IN THE BIG 12
Major Applewhite, Texas Buzz:Though the Longhorn co-offensive coordinator did not personally land as many big-name players as a year ago, he was able to grab the nation's No. 1 overall running back, five-star Johnathan Gray. Applewhite had to convince Gray to share the backfield with last year's top back, Malcolm Brown. He also was able to steal Rivals250 athlete Daje Johnson from TCU late and also grab wide receiver Marcus Johnson, who has been committed to both Texas A&M and Texas Tech. Applewhite may not be the primary recruiter for the rest of the class but he still seems to be involved in pretty much every prospect.
Rusty Burns, TCU Buzz: The Horned Frog co-offensive coordinator and quarterback coach was responsible for landing six of TCU's 22 overall signees. Many assumed Rivals250 defensive end and Under Armour All-American Devonte Fields was headed to Oklahoma before Burns was able to reel him in for TCU. He also beat out Texas A&M for athlete Kolby Listenbee. Burns' biggest moves all came within a week of signing day, though. He received a commitment from Louisiana linebacker James McFarland on an official visit and then received a letter-of-intent from McFarland's teammate, Terrell Lathan, on signing day. Lathan did not want to go far from home and almost nobody expected him to go anywhere other than Louisiana Tech. The biggest coup came the night before signing day, though, when he went into SEC territory as Georgia safety Jordan Moore selected the Horned Frogs over Auburn, Florida and Georgia.
Bo Davis, Texas Buzz:The Longhorn defensive tackle coach helped land the nation's No. 2 class at his position, including five-star Malcom Brown and four-star Paul Boyette Jr., but his contributions were not limited to the defensive line. Davis was instrumental in pulling off one of the biggest signing-day shockers when longtime LSU linebacker commit and U.S. Army All-American Torshiro Davis decided to leave the state of Louisiana and sign with Texas. Bo Davis had recruiter Torshiro Davis when he was still at Alabama and never gave up on him despite his commitment to the Tigers. Davis also convinced Mack Brown to go the junior college route for the first time in recent memory and the Longhorns landed two top prospects in Donald Hawkins and Brandon Moore. Brown raved about Davis on signing day as the Longhorns wrapped up the nation's No. 2 overall class.
Jim Gush, Baylor Buzz:In his second year at the school, the Bears' linebacker coach brought in six signees for Baylor. Gush's biggest coup was landing Rivals250 wide receiver Corey Coleman, one of the fastest prospects in the country. Coleman received overtures from both Oklahoma and Texas late but stayed true to his Baylor pledge. Gush's ties to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex from his days at SMU really paid off with cornerback Ryan Reid, who chose Baylor over Oklahoma and Texas A&M. Wide receiver Kiante' Griffin ended up just outside four-star status and was one of the earliest commitments for any Big 12 school when he chose the Bears.
Bruce Kittle, Oklahoma Buzz: The Sooners' offensive tackle and tight end coach helped Oklahoma land a truly national class. The Sooners have normally stuck to recruiting primarily the state of Texas, but Kittle went outside of Oklahoma's region to land prospects such as Taylor McNamara, Laith Harlow, Sam Grant and Will Latu. All of those players had major BCS offers from within their own regions so they could all be considered big steals for Oklahoma, which finished with a top 10 class nationally.
Robert Prunty, Texas Tech Buzz:The Red Raider defensive end coach was last year's Rivals.com Big 12 Recruiter of the Year and he showed no signs of letting up in the class of 2012. Prunty was the lead recruiter for U.S. Army All-American Michael Starts and beat out the likes of Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas and Texas A&M for his services. He also held onto cornerback La'Darius Newbold late when other schools made a hard run at him. Texas Tech went heavy on the junior college ranks this year and Prunty was the lead recruiter for most of them as well.
Michael Smith, Kansas State Buzz:The Wildcat wide receiver coach landed the biggest fish in Kansas State's class in four-star junior college wide receiver Marquez Clark along with offensive tackle teammate Tavon Rooks. Both were early enrollees and most thought Rooks was a lock for the Big East. Smith also managed to grab two other very talented players from the Texas junior college ranks in defensive tackle Weslet Hollingshed and defensive back Kent Gainous as well as finding speedy wide receiver Judah Jones very late in the recruiting process.
Glenn Spencer, Oklahoma State Buzz:The Cowboy co-defensive coordinator was responsible for several top recruits in the class. Spencer was the lead recruiter on two Oklahoma State's three four-star signees, wide receiver C.J. Curry and linebacker Seth Jacobs. Making it even more impressive is that both prospects are outside of the Cowboys' normal recruiting area as Curry hail from Georgia and Jacobs from California. Spencer also helped reel in linebacker Jeremiah Tshimanga very early in the recruiting process despite the fact he held quite a few offers at the time. He also convinced defensive end Victor Irokansi to switch from his pledge to Colorado.
Joe Wickline, Oklahoma State Buzz:The Cowboy offensive line coach was nothing if not relentless in recruiting the class of 2012. Wickline pulled off a pretty big surprise by flipping offensive tackle Michael Wilson from his Texas A&M commitment late in the process. He also was able to switch defensive end Eric Davis from an early Texas A&M pledge as well. Offensive tackle Greg Brantley played in the Offense-Defense Bowl and junior college offensive tackle Chris Grisbhy has three years of eligibility remaining and has a chance to be a special player.
Lance Anderson, Stanford Buzz: Stanford's offensive line class could be one of the best in college football history and Anderson played a large role in getting it done. Anderson was instrumental in getting five-star offensive tackle Andrus Peat and four-star offensive guard Brandon Fanaika, plus he played a role in landing five-star Kyle Murphy and four-star Joshua Garnett. He also assisted with four-star linebacker Noor Davis and three-star safety Zach Hoffpauir, who flipped from Cal late in the process.
Wes Chandler, California Buzz: Chandler has not had a lot of time on the recruiting trail, but his NFL success is an instant draw to wide receivers looking at the Golden Bears. He was instrumental in keeping four-star Darius Powe in Cal's class and played a role with Bryce Treggs, Chris Harper and Kenny Lawler as well. There was a chance Cal's class could have imploded after Tosh Lupoi and Eric Kiesau left for Washington but Chandler was one of the reasons it didn't. The Golden Bears kept a lot of their top players on offense, added Cedric Dozier and Lawler and had a strong class considering the circumstances.
Jay Hill, Utah Buzz: Hill was busy again this recruiting cycle. He was the lead recruiter for four-star standouts Chase Hansen and Cedrick Poutasi, who decided against flipping to Oregon in the final days before Naitonal Signing Day. The Utah assistant coach was also involved with many other top prospects in the class, including Moana Ofahengaue, J.J. Dielman, Austin Lee, Zach Lindsay and others. Getting Hansen and Poutasi was huge since both could be immediate contributors for the Utes.
Tosh Lupoi, Washington Buzz: Lupoi arrived late in the recruiting process from Cal so he cannot get credit for all the stars in Washington's class, but the Huskies closed well late and Lupoi's fingerprints all over some of the standouts who flipped. Five-star Shaq Thompson took a late unofficial visit to Washington and then signed with the Huskies. Four-star defensive end Pio Vatuvei came over from USC and three-star defensive back Cleveland Wallace flipped from Oregon State on signing day. Lupoi's departure from Cal to Washington caused such a firestorm because he is clearly one of the nation's best recruiters.
Demetrice Martin, UCLA Buzz: Martin was instrumental in the Bruins signing five-star defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy, a former Cal commit who flipped to UCLA after Lupoi left the Golden Bears for Washington. UCLA closed strong by flipping four-star defensive end Jeremy Castro from Oregon - Martin was at a Vista Murrieta game this season - and he was involved in getting many of the other top recruits the Bruins finished with. There is no question with UCLA's new staff the Bruins will get some outstanding prospects and Martin will be involved in a lot of their recruitments.
Ed Orgeron, USC Buzz: Orgeron is one of the nation's best recruiters and there's no question he was instrumental in USC's class this recruiting cycle. Four-star safety Gerald Bowman, four-star defensive end Morgan Breslin, three-star fullback Jahleel Pinner, five-star offensive guard Jordan Simmons, four-star offensive tackle Max Tuerk and others were recruited by Orgeron throughout the process. Orgeron is USC's ace recruiter so pretty much everyone who signed with the Trojans had been involved with him in one way or another.
Dennis Simmons, Washington State Buzz: Washington State had the lowest-rated class in the Pac-12, but there is a culture change in Pullman and Simmons is one of the biggest reasons why. No longer will the Cougars back down on the recruiting trail. They did an outstanding job this cycle, especially in Southern California. Simmons handled the recruitment of Culver City, Calif., standouts Alex Jackson and Khalil Pettway, defensive end Kache Palacio, linebacker Jeremiah Allison along with Niu Sale and Ioane Gauta. This recruiting class could help Washington State get back on track in the Pac-12.
D.J. Durkin, Florida Buzz: Durkin played a major role in landing Shelby (N.C.) Crest five-star defensive end Jonathan Bullard, Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek five-star offensive tackle D.J. Humphries, Venice (Fla.) four-star defensive tackle Dante Phillips and Clemmons (N.C.) West Forsyth three-star defensive end Alex McCalister, who will all play a vital role in adding talent and depth along the offensive and defensive lines. With Durkin, Florida also went to North Carolina to land three-star safety Rhaheim Ledbetter, Bullard's teammate and best friend.
MORE RIVALS.COM TOP 10 RECRUITERS IN THE SEC
David Beaty, Texas A&M Buzz: The Aggies wide receivers coach arrived from Kansas with not much time before signing day yet made a huge impact for new head coach Kevin Sumlin. He flipped longtime Oklahoma Rivals100 cornerback commit DeVante Harris. Beaty then landed another former Oklahoma commit in defensive end Polo Manukainiu. His biggest coup came on signing day, when the nation's No. 34 overall prospect, wide receiver Thomas Johnson, a former Texas commit, chose the Aggies. Beaty also turned standout junior college receiver Derel Walker, who was previously committed to Kansas, and defensive tackle Edmund Ray, a longtime Missouri commit.
Todd Grantham, Georgia Buzz: The Georgia defensive coordinator played a significant role in the Bulldogs' signings of four standout defensive players. He was the primary recruiter for five-star athlete Josh Harvey-Clemons of Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes, who will play outside linebacker in Athens. Grantham also led the recruitment of Rivals100 defensive end Jordan Jenkins of Harris County (Ga.) High. Additionally, he played key roles in Georgia getting four-star defensive end Josh Dawson of Tucker (Ga.) and cornerback Sheldon Dawson of Memphis (Tenn.) Ridgeway. Josh Dawson flipped on signing day from Vanderbilt after an in-home visit spearheaded by Grantham a few days earlier.
Darin Hinshaw, Tennessee Buzz: Hinshaw helped the Vols strike big in Florida, and was the key recruiter for arguably Tennessee's biggest recruit -- four-star receiver Cordarrelle Patterson of Hutchinson C.C. in Kansas. He's a player the Vols hope can contribute early, and chose Tennessee over schools such as Auburn and Georgia. In the Sunshine State, Hinshaw landed four-star receiver Alton Howard of Orlando Edgewater and three-star defensive end Trent Taylor of Lakeland Lake Gibson, a player who was flipped from a commitment to Miami. Additionally, he was the secondary recruiter with quarterback Nathan Peterman, a four-star recruit from Fruit Cove Bartram Trail and one of the centerpieces of the class.
Derek Lewis, Florida Buzz: Lewis was overshadowed a bit by the haul of his co-worker Durkin, but he was responsible or heavily involved in the signing of six players in Florida's class, all of them being four- or five-star prospects. He flipped Dante Fowler Jr. away from Florida State on Signing Day, put together the nation's top tight end class by landing Kent Taylor and Colin Thompson and held onto cornerback Brian Poole despite a late charge by Notre Dame. Running back Matt Jones and linebacker Jeremi Powell are also under his charge.
Bryan McClendon, Georgia Buzz: McClendon went into North Carolina and made out very nicely in the Tar Heel State. To do that, he had to win some fierce battles. One victory landed Todd Gurley. The other got Keith Marshall to Athens. That gave the Bulldogs two Rivals100 prospects and two four-star running backs with difference-maker potential. To land Gurley, McClendon beat Clemson and North Carolina. He scored Marshall by outdueling Clemson and archrival Florida. Gurley is the No. 5 running back in the class. Marshall is No. 2 among all-purpose backs.
Jeremy Pruitt, Alabama Buzz: Alabama's secondary coach landed seven prospects with an average star ranking of four stars. The headliners of the group are Panama City (Fla.) Arnold five-star athlete Eddie Williams, whom Alabama locked up early in the process, and Daphne (Ala.) High five-star running back T.J. Yeldon, whom the Tide switched from in-state rival Auburn down the stretch. Pruitt also dipped into Florida for four-star wide receiver Chris Black from Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast, whom Alabama beat out Florida State for. Other in-state prospects he landed include Rivals250 linebackers Ryan Anderson of Daphne (Ala.) High and Tyler Hayes of Thomasville (Ala.) High. He also was lead recruiter on Prattville (Ala.) High three-star offensive guard Caleb Gulledge and Mobile (Ala.) Davidson three-star defensive tackle Alphonse Taylor. Taylor switched his commitment from Florida State to Alabama.
Kirby Smart, Alabama Buzz: The Alabama defensive coordinator came up big in the Peach State, helping the Tide sign four solid players from Georgia. One of them, four-star Rivals250 defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson of Henry County (Ga.) High, announced for Alabama on signing day. Smart fought off both Georgia and Georgia Tech for Tomlinson's signature. Smart also grabbed two Rivals250 players in inside linebacker Dillon Lee of Buford (Ga.) and Kenyan Drake, a speedy running back from Powder Springs (Ga.) Hillgrove. Additionally, he inked defensive tackle Dakota Ball of Lindale (Ga.) High, a player who also has the ability to play on the offensive line if needed.
Trooper Taylor, Auburn Buzz: Taylor was involved with many of the Tigers' top signees - as usual. In Georgia, he was the primary recruiter on several four-star players, including Rivals100 receiver JaQuay Williams of Tyrone (Ga.) Sandy Creek, one of the best players in the class and someone Georgia made a late charge for. Cornerback Joshua Holsey of Fairburn (Ga.) Creekside, receiver Ricardo Louis of Miami Beach (Fla.) High and tight end Ricky Parks of Hogansville (Ga.) Callaway each are members of the Rivals250. Taylor also played a role in the recruitment of players such as offensive linemen Jordan Diamond and Avery Young, and running back Jovon Robinson. All are four-star prospects.
Lorenzo Ward, South Carolina Buzz: South Carolina's defensive coordinator/secondary coach came up huge in neighboring Georgia, landing nine players, including three four-star prospects. The headliner of his Peach State haul is Rivals100 tailback Mike Davis of Stone Mountain Stephenson, a U.S. Army All-American. The one-time Florida commit rushed for nearly 2,000 yards in 2011 and has a good chance to compete early in Columbia. Four-star safety Chaz Elder of College Park Banker also was a significant get. Ditto for four-star offensive guard Joe Harris of Lithonia. The group of three-star prospects was solid. Defensive back Rico McWilliams of Hampton Lovejoy has lots of potential. Another defensive back, Chris Moody, was committed to Vanderbilt before Ward got him to flip in the 11th hour.
Jamie Christian, Houston Buzz: One of the biggest surprises on National Signing Day was when four-star wide receiver Deontay Greenberry flipped from Notre Dame to Houston. The Fresno (Calif.) Washington Union standout took a late official visit to Houston and his relationship with Christian, from his time at Arizona State, was key to Greenberry's decision. The four-star is so talented he could make an instant impact for Houston. Christian was also involved with Terrence Taylor, Larry McDuffey and others.
MORE RIVALS.COM TOP 10 RECRUITERS FROM NON-"BIG-SIX" CONFERENCES
Brandon Doman, BYU
Buzz: Doman made this list last year and the BYU assistant coach is back on it after landing four-star defensive end Troy Hinds. The Kaysville (Utah) Davis standout could be an immediate contributor for the Cougars after putting up big numbers in his last two high school seasons. Doman has been an excellent recruiter for years and continues to show he can pull the top players out of the state to BYU.
Denver Johnson, Tulsa Buzz: In his first year on the Tulsa staff, after being hired from Colorado, Johnson did extremely well in his native state of Oklahoma. He collected seven signees for the Golden Hurricane, including four three-star prospects and three of Oklahoma's Top 20 prospects. Johnson beat out Kansas State for linebacker Conner Sherwood and also beat out Arizona, Iowa State, Stanford and Oregon State for Guthrie lineman Blake Belcher, the No. 11 overall prospect in Oklahoma.
Jeff Popovich, FIU
Buzz: Florida International landed 19 three-star prospects and Popovich did a solid job getting some of those players to sign. Popovich was involved with three-star defensive end Byran Attaway, two-star defensive end Michael Wakefield, three-star defensive back Deonte Wilson and others. Coach Mario Cristobal continues the turnaround at FIU and Popovich has done a solid job helping get players to that program.
Lincoln Riley, East Carolina Buzz: Riley went after some top-notch players and landed many of them including four three-star prospects in Lance Ray, Dre Scarborough, Jabril Solomon and Lucas Thompson. Many other programs were especially after Solomon, rated as the No. 26 safety in the 2012 class by Rivals.com. It was Riley's recruitment that got Solomon to East Carolina and he could be a big pickup.
JaJuan Seider, Marshall Buzz: Marshall put together a nice class and Seider was a big reason why the Thundering Herd had such a good outcome. Seider helped Marshall with four-star Amos Leggett along with three-star quarterback Gunnar Holcombe and three-star linebacker Kent Turene, who has bounced around a little bit. Seider did a great job with those three prospects and they could help immediately.
Chris Strausser, Boise State Buzz: What would this list be without at least one coach from Boise State? The Broncos have had so much success and this recruiting class should help, too. Strausser was involved with three-star Travis Averill throughout his recruitment and he could be a major steal. The Anaheim (Calif.) Servite lineman dominated in his senior season and was undervalued, much like many of Boise State's commits.