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January 31, 2012
Rivals.com's football recruiting analysts weigh in on a question of a day through National Signing Day on Wednesday.
Today's question: When 2012 National Signing Day ends, you'll likely remember this year most for what?
Mike Farrell: The defensive line class, I think it will be one of the best we have ever seen if all the prospects keep their heads on straight and continue working hard. At first I thought this would be the year of the offensive tackle and it still could be, but I see more special defensive linemen that we will be hearing about in college football and the NFL. Mario Edwards, Jonathan Bullard, Eddie Goldman, Noah Spence, Darius Hamilton, Ondre Pipkins, Ellis McCarthy, Adolphus Washington, Malcolm Brown, Aziz Shittu and Dante Fowler Jr. are all five-stars. That's a ridiculous amount of defensive line talent.
Adam Gorney: On the West Coast, it's going to be all the coaching changes and how that affected so much in recruiting. Both Arizona and Arizona State, UCLA and Washington State all made coaching changes and that had an enormous impact with a bunch of prospects. That meant lots of changes, lots of phone calls to document them and chasing a lot of stories as committed kids flipped to other schools, some prospects took visits and all kinds of other rumors to track down. When Oregon coach Chip Kelly considered leaving for Tampa Bay, I thought it was almost out of control. He stayed. So that meant just a little less work to do.
Josh Helmholdt: When fans approach me to talk recruiting, a question I often get is, "What is your strangest story from the recruiting trail?" I have a new story to tell now. Gunner Kiel's recruitment was strange every step of the way, from spurning bigger-name programs to commit to Indiana, where he would be competing with his brother, to his decommitment in October and subsequent commitment to LSU around Christmas, to not showing up when classes started in Baton Rouge and enrolling at Notre Dame at the last minute. It was a strange, wild ride.
Chris Nee: The recruitment of Tracy Howard. Early on, Florida seemed to lead, then there was a stretch where most felt Florida State was in front, and then it appeared Florida regained the lead. Then a final weekend visit to Miami turned everything upside down and made it a difficult call. Howard has handled himself extremely well throughout the process and truly evaluated his options. He is a cornerstone to the class of whichever program lands him.
Keith Niebuhr: What stands out to me are some of the conversations I had with other analysts over last summer. At the time, kids were committing left and right, and we joked that all our work might be done well before signing day. Well, as it turned out, a lot of the prospects who gave early verbals have either flipped to other schools (T.J. Yeldon comes to mind) or wavered late (Josh Dawson). As luck would have it, the early commits didn't make life any easier for us - or for the college coaches out there. If anything, the end of this recruiting cycle has been more hectic than a year ago.
Brian Perroni: This year I think will go down as the year that Twitter changed recruiting. Almost every prospect is on Twitter and fans read into every single tweet they make. There are overzealous fans of every single school that tweet at recruits as well and, when kids flip from a school or simply choose a different program, there can be some pretty nasty things said to those prospects as well. With Twitter allowing fans to seemingly get even closer to the recruiting process, it still remains to be seen if that is a good or bad thing.