These questions and more are addressed by National Recruiting Analyst Mike Farrell in this week's mailbag.
Gamecocks leave impression
Did Alabama's recent loss to South Carolina have any effect upon Jadeveon Clowney? I watched ESPN's interviews from after the game, and both Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery emphasized staying in-state. Is that the Gamecocks' big selling point?
- Jason from Birmingham, Ala.
Yes, I think the win by South Carolina over Alabama had a big impact on Clowney. He has always felt more comfortable there with former teammates on the team and his family close, but the big selling point for Alabama was winning the SEC and a national title, and how much further it was than the Gamecocks. Bama had last year's national title to sell, but now South Carolina has a head-to-head win to sell and the impact made by in-state stars in the game is huge. Yes, Steve Spurrier is preaching to the in-state stars to come to play at South Carolina. That makes sense. With Clowney, I think that approach is working.
Huskers creep toward top 10
Does Nebraska have a chance to move into the top 10 team rankings?
- Alan from Lincoln, Neb.
Yes the Huskers have a chance, but it will take a big finish. With 13 commitments right now they are in range of the top 10 with most of the schools ahead of them boasting more prospects right now. Nebraska will take a smaller class this year of 21 or 22 so it will be tough to finish in the top 10. I see 11-20 more likely, but if the finish with Aaron Green, Cyrus Hobbi, Todd Peat and Charles Jackson, and possibly pull an upset for Wayne Lyons or someone else, then it could happen. But it would take a near perfect finish.
Florida State rolling
Will FSU finish in the top five in recruiting?
- Jeff from Tallahassee, Fla.
I'm predicting the Seminoles finish in the top five for the first time since 2006. Right now they are seemingly locked into the 3-7 range with 16 commitments (No. 5 currently but Oklahoma and Ohio State are close). If Florida State finishes the way I think it will, it should easily crack the top five.
The highest-ranked SEC team in the country, a dynamic quarterback that garnishes the whole team's national attention and the only team to beat South Carolina - why is it that Auburn isn't doing too well on the recruiting front?
- Alan from Toronto
I don't think recruiting is going poorly at Auburn and I think the best is yet to come. The Tigers are in the top 20 right now and while they are No. 6 in the SEC, I expect them to finish ahead of both Georgia and Ole Miss come National Signing Day, and push for a top 10 class.
Could Cal have a better recruiting class than last year's class? The UCLA game had some good recruits on hand and they all seemed to have a good time. Could that be the start of something good?
- Brian from Rocklin, Calif.
I doubt, it will surpass last year's haul. Last year California finished No. 11 in the country and No. 3 in the Pac-10 behind USC and UCLA. Cal is outside the top 25 right now with nine commitments and while this past weekend was huge in impressing players such as George Farmer, Jason Gibson, Marqise Lee, DeAnthony Arnett, Avery Walls and others there doesn't seem to be enough talent looking at Cal to push it back to 11 this year.
Keep in mind that five of Cal's top eight prospects last year hailed from outside the state and a group like that can't be counted on this year. That being said, I still think the Bears will finish in the top three in the Pac-10 and can push for a top 20 finish. Thumping UCLA on the field will certainly help that cause.
Gators striking out
Are the Gators going to land a big-time running back?
- Bentley from Melbourne Beach, Fla.
It's hard to bet against Florida, but this could be another year where the Gators strike out on a stud running back. I know they got Mack Brown last year and he could be very good, but this year Florida is so loaded with stud tailbacks that fans had to think this would be the recruiting season it broke through with a Rivals100 back.
The Gators looked good for James Wilder Jr. before he surprised and chose Florida State. They led for Mike Blakely, but now it seems that Auburn has the edge there now, even after a good visit this past weekend. And Florida is out of it for Mike Bellamy, a Clemson commitment, after a poor visit this past weekend and is a long shot at best for Savon Huggins. Unless it can win the battle for Blakely or maybe pull Marlin Lane away from Clemson, it will be another year for Florida without a top 100 prospect at running back.
Hokies try to hang in
The Hokies' class is full of three-star guys right now. What are their chances they land linebackers Curtis Grant and Travis Hughes, as well as defensive back Demetrious Nicholson and athlete Dominique Terrell, who are the top four remaining uncommitted prospects in Virginia? Who might they land from out of state?
- Curtis from Virginia Beach, Va.
The chances for Grant are at an all-time low and barring some serious change of heart he's likely headed to the SEC. But he essentially eliminated the Hokies long ago so it's not a big surprise. Hughes seems far less certain as he and his father are high on the Hokies. North Carolina is the leader as he has stated this week, but that could change if the hammer drops there. With Nicholson, I expect that to be a battle to the end between the Hokies and Cavaliers, while Terrell appears to be between West Virginia and Virginia Tech. Of those, I think the best shot is Hughes and Terrell. There aren't many other prospects on the board at this time out of state.