RAKROOTIN', WITH ANDY STAPLES

Recruiting is like prom without booze for the college fan, and that equals nervous, nervous times. Ease the pain with the balm of someone who knows what they're talking about, Andy Staples of CNNSI.com.

1. Name the three most contested recruits in the nation?

1) QB Terrelle Pryor, Jeannette, Pa. -- Pryor's obvious skill aside, his recruitment is especially nasty because it looks like it will come down to Michigan and Ohio State. The two fan bases hate each other with the heat of 1,000 suns, so the mud has been flying. For the coaching staffs, losing Pryor to their bitter rival would be a huge blow.

2) WR Julio Jones, Foley, Ala. -- Jones is down to Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Oklahoma. He's a 6-4, 215-pounder with great hands and phenomenal leaping ability. If he picks any school other than Alabama, the accumulated tears falling south from the state may actually flood Florida's panhandle.

3) RB Darrell Scott, Ventura, Calif. -- Scott is down to Texas and Colorado, but he may not reveal his decision before signing day. His uncle (two years older) plays at Colorado, which is why the Buffs are in it for the guy considered the nation's top back.

2. Who's being the most innovative in terms of reaching recruits?

A lot of schools have gotten around the text message ban by just sending e-mails. A lot of kids get e-mail on their cell phones now, anyway. Southern California and Florida also have one-day camps during the summer that are extremely popular among elite recruits. Florida calls its camp "Friday Night Lights." They basically turn on the lights at Florida Field, jack up the hip-hop on the sound system and run the players through drills. Other schools have begun copying the format. Florida State had one this summer called "Seminole Showtime" that featured a ton of former FSU stars mingling with campers.

3. Who's cleaning up?

The usual suspects. Ohio State has a great class whether Pryor chooses the Buckeyes or Michigan. USC may not have a great ranking because the Trojans may not sign as many players as the other highly ranked schools, but the Trojans appear to have a quality class. Also, USC already has a commitment from QB Matt Barkley, the guy who probably will be the top prospect in the class of 2009. Barkley attends the same high school (Mater Dei in Santa Ana, Calif.) that produced Matt Leinart. In the SEC, Georgia, Florida and Alabama have put together strong classes. If Alabama signs Jones, consider it a sign that Nick Saban's recruiting mojo is alive and well.

4. Whose class will look good in terms of stars and numbers, but may not actually address program needs?

Notre Dame is always the one to watch in this category. The program needs an overall talent upgrade, and at first glance the 2008 class would appear to address that need, but Notre Dame also had top-10 classes in 2006 and 2007. At any other school, two consecutive top-10 classes would translate to more on-field success, but Notre Dame recruits sometimes get rated higher than they would had they not chosen Notre Dame. But that's probably also Tyrone Willingham's fault.

5. Conversely: whose class is addressing needs perfectly?

I realize a lot of Florida fans frequent EDSBS, so they're not going to like this. Georgia really didn't need much more talent, but the Bulldogs cleaned up. A.J. Green, a 6-4 receiver from Summerville, S.C., looked like a future star at the Under Armour All American game on Jan. 5. Georgia has 25 commitments, and five players already have enrolled.

6. What programs are tanking in this year's recruiting?

Tennessee has not gotten many of its high-profile targets, but the Vols still have a chance to bolster the class with a few undecided players. One is Anniston, Ala., offensive tackle Antoine McClain, who also is considering Alabama, Auburn and LSU. Georgia Tech, which is hampered by high academic standards and a coaching change, hasn't pulled in any big-name recruits. That said, Paul Johnson probably will have more talent at his disposal than he had at Navy, so the recruiting ranking probably won't matter.

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