BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU was one of the first schools to take advantage of signing seniors that plan to enroll early to financial aid agreements after the NCAA introduced the rule change in the fall of 2013. The Tigers were also one of the first schools, at least publicly, to be sanctioned for violating contact rules around the FAA agreement when the NCAA and Southeastern Conference banned LSU from signing early enrollees to the agreement for the next two years and stripped the program of 10 percent of its recruiting evaluation days in 2015.

At the center of the case was Matt Womack, a three-star offensive lineman from Senatobia (Mississippi) Magnolia High School, who signed a financial aid agreement with LSU last August with the intent to enroll at the school in January. Instead, Womack decommitted, like hundreds of prospects do every recruiting cycle, and signed with Alabama in February. LSU was punished because Tigers head coach Les Miles visited Womack’s home on Oct. 28 -- a trip that was perfectly legal at the time because a school can have unlimited communication with a prospect once that prospect signs an FAA -- but when he didn’t end up in Baton Rouge, the trip turned into a violation of NCAA contact rules.

[+] EnlargeLes Miles
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesLes Miles and LSU found themselves the victim of a hole in the financial aid agreement rules in recruiting.

The ruling was puzzling because there’s a lot of discussion as to whether or not financial aid agreements will even be around in the future. An early signing period for football is expected to be approved by the Conference Commissioners Association in July and instituted this fall for a two-year trial period. The 72-hour early signing window starting on Dec. 16 would allow prospects to sign a national letter of intent, and some recruiters and conference officials believe it could render financial aid agreements obsolete.

Even if it doesn’t and schools are still allowed to sign prospects to FAAs, it’s still hard to fathom how LSU ended up being punished because a teenager decommitted. That was something LSU coach Les Miles agreed with during a Friday morning visit.

“How can you possibly blame the institution?” Miles said. “It basically amounts to this. You put up a sign where the speed limit is 45 mph. Then because a guy changes his mind, he takes down the 45-mph sign and puts up a 25-mph sigh. And then all those guys that went 45 back when it was legal to go 45, they’re going to be punished? It doesn't make sense.

“They said we could not even communicate with him. I never had a conversation with Matt Womack after the time he said 'I would like to not sign early.' Think about that. He didn't say 'I'm going to another school.' He said 'I would like to not enroll early.' I didn't have the ability to ever talk to him because of our compliance department. We couldn't even call and recruit the guy.”

Miles said in hindsight he doesn’t know how he and his staff could have handled things any differently than what they did.

“We have always been compliant with the NCAA, and we do the right things,” Miles said. “We stepped into the concrete before it hardened, and they pounded a nail in our finger for it. It doesn't make any sense to me.”

The NCAA still has to accept the penalties imposed by the SEC, but LSU is not expected to appeal the sanctions. Also keep in mind, the ruling won’t keep LSU from accepting commitments from players that want to enroll early. The only difference now is that they won’t be allowed to sign the FAA -- where unlimited communication would be allowed -- and just enroll in school at the start of the second semester.

LSU associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson said the topic has already come up with some recruits, but he believes it won’t hurt the Tigers’ chances to land top prospects that want to become part of the program in January.

“It's made us vulnerable for conversation and to have to defend it,” Wilson said. “It's information, or legislation, that the everyday parent doesn't quite understand. If you just read the papers or saw the scroll on ESPN, you'd think 'Oh you can't go to LSU if you're a mid-year.' So we've had to have educated conversations about it with parents and prospects.

“But we're able to present it in a manner where they know long term that it truly doesn't affect them. We've already got a few mid-term guys committed to us, and we know there are so many great reasons why the best players want to come to LSU.”

Follow all the action from The Opening New Orleans regional and the IMG Southeast regional this weekend. Coverage begins Saturday at 9 a.m. ET.

Weekly Commitment Roundup

March, 27, 2015
Mar 27

The following is a list of commitments made to FBS programs from March 20-26:

Boston College
Bryce Morais DE
HT: 6-4 WT: 245
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Rahshaun Smith OLB
HT: 6-3 WT: 229
Positional Rank: #5 OLB
Stars: 4
ESPN Jr300 (#54)

Brandon Hill OLB
HT: 6-2 WT: 215
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Jaquwan Nelson DE
HT: 6-4 WT: 230
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Tony Butler CB
HT: 6-2 WT: 181
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Brandon Ford OT
HT: 6-5 WT: 295
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Thomas MacVittie QB-PP
HT: 6-4 WT: 205
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Virginia Tech
Clay Dean DE
HT: 6-2 WT: 240
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Victor Greene OLB
HT: 6-0 WT: 200
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Big 12
Texas Tech
Donte Coleman TE-H
HT: 6-4 WT: 220
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Big Ten
Penn State
Connor McGovern OC
HT: 6-3 WT: 290
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Sean Riley RB
HT: 5-9 WT: 165
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Oregon State
Devon Clarke S
HT: 6-1 WT: 180
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

K.J. Costello QB-PP
HT: 6-4 WT: 216
Positional Rank: #4 QB-PP
Stars: 4
ESPN Jr300 (#40)

Demetric Felton ATH
HT: 5-9 WT: 178
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Lokeni Toailoa ILB
HT: 6-1 WT: 212
Positional Rank: #1 ILB
Stars: 4
ESPN Jr300 (#87)

Stephen Carr RB
HT: 6-0 WT: 194
Positional Rank: N/A (2017)
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Isaiah Johnson WR
HT: 6-3 WT: 204
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Spencer Perry S
HT: 6-3 WT: 205
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Notre Dame
Tony Jones Jr. RB
HT: 5-11 WT: 206
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: 3

Julian Love RB
HT: 5-11 WT: 175
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: 3

John Shannon LS
HT: 6-2 WT: 230
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Phil Benker WR
HT: 6-1 WT: 190

Malik Mbodji WR
HT: 6-4 WT: 185

Southern Miss
Warwick Marsh DT
HT: 5-11 WT: 310

Stori Emerson WR
HT: 6-2 WT: 190

Alonzo McCoy CB
HT: 5-10 WT: 170

Mountain West

Alec Simpson OLB
HT: 6-3 WT: 205

San Jose State
Leni Toailoa CB
HT: 6-1 WT: 175

Sun Belt
Texas State
Devin Williams QB-DT
HT: 5-10 WT: 166

Oshea Grant ATH
HT: 6-0 WT: 180

IMG Academy will play host to the loaded Southeast Regional 7-on-7 this weekend. Top 7-on-7 teams such as the South Florida Express, Florida Fire and Pro Impact will field teams that feature some of the top prospects in the region, including more than two dozen ESPN Junior 300 prospects. Here are five things to watch headed into the weekend.
NEW ORLEANS -- Many said the absolutely loaded 2014 recruiting class in Louisiana would never be matched. Somebody forgot to tell that to the players in 2016 class. The Bayou State is again stacked, and many of those national recruits will be on display at Saturday’s Nike Opening regional at Joe Brown Park. More than 20 players ranked in the ESPN Junior 300 will be in attendance, including nine of the top 20 players in Louisiana.

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When it comes to quarterback recruiting for the Pac-12, things have changed dramatically from last year. In the 2015 class, ESPN 300 quarterbacks littered the California landscape and few Pac-12 programs even thought about venturing outside of the West region for their quarterback targets. This year, the region hasn’t been especially kind to the conference at the quarterback position in the early going, despite No. 40 overall prospect K.J. Costello announcing his commitment to Stanford on Thursday afternoon.
[+] EnlargeK.J. Costello
Scott Fink/Student SportsWith K.J. Costello headed to Stanford, the quarterback ranks out west are getting thin.
Malik Henry finished his junior season as the top prospect in the West but committed to Florida State then transferred to a high school in Florida. That left quarterback Jacob Eason as the top West prospect, but he removed his name from the uncommitted list very early on, announcing his pledge to Georgia last July. Keaton Torre is the region’s No. 3 quarterback and just recently opened his recruitment back up after committing to Louisville. That leaves Torre and Ian Book as the lone uncommitted ESPN Junior 300 quarterbacks in the West, two of several signal-callers in the region who could see their recruitment pick up with attention now fully shifted away from Costello. Book holds a Pac-12 offer from Washington State and appears to be just behind fellow California quarterbacks Matt Fink and Devon Modster in terms of sought-after signal-callers in the area. Programs that fell out of the Costello sweepstakes moved quickly on either Fink or Modster -- or sometimes both -- and that could also be the case with USC after missing out on Costello. Fink’s Pac-12 offers came from Cal, Colorado, Oregon State, Utah, Washington and Washington State, while Modster holds offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, UCLA, Utah and Washington State. There likely won’t be much urgency at the position for a number of teams in the conference, as many likely believe their 2015 addition can cover up for a somewhat down year in the region at the position in 2016. Arizona, Cal and Oregon are the three Pac-12 programs that appear set at quarterback for the 2016 class, and Stanford can now be added to that list with Costello’s commitment. The Ducks landed their top target in ESPN Junior 300 quarterback Seth Green, while the Wildcats gained a pledge from Khalil Tate as a quarterback when other programs recruited him as an athlete. Cal has a commitment from dual-threat Armani Rogers. Utah does have a commitment from Kahi Neves, though he could play a number of positions for the Utes. USC could go after the aforementioned California quarterbacks, or the Trojans could elect to stand pat at the position, leaving a gap between the two ESPN 300 quarterbacks they signed in the 2015 class and what should be a very good crop of 2017 quarterbacks in the region. Stanford coaches surely were breathing a sigh of relief Thursday afternoon, as they won't have to go through a repeat of what happened in 2015. They went hard after their top -- and only -- target at quarterback and reeled him in.

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video Stanford needed to win the recruitment of ESPN Junior 300 quarterback K.J. Costello on Thursday. The reason is simple: The Cardinal did not sign a quarterback in the 2015 class. David Shaw and his staff placed a huge checkmark next to the quarterback position Thursday when Costello committed to Stanford in front of teammates and media at Santa Margarita Catholic (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.).

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video The Clemson Tigers continue to prove to be one of the top recruiting staffs in the country. After signing the No. 4-ranked class in February, Dabo Swinney and his staff are at it again. With three ESPN Junior 300 prospects already committed, including, No. 12 Tavien Feaster, the Tigers added another huge pledge Thursday in Rahshaun Smith. Smith joins No. 135 Tavares Chase as Tigers commits from IMG Academy.

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CommitCast: No. 54 Rahshaun Smith replay

March, 26, 2015
Mar 26

OLB Rahshaun Smith, No. 54 in the ESPN Junior 300, announced his commitment to Clemson. Watch the replay and hear why he chose the Tigers.

Dominating Florida is always critical for Florida State, but another secret to the Seminoles' success is doing well in Virginia, and highly-coveted corner Levonta Taylor could be the Noles' next big get from the state.

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video Carver High in Montgomery, Alabama, will be home to one of the top recruiting battles in the Southeast in the 2016 cycle. Problem is, only Alabama and Auburn fans may be tuned in on a daily basis to see which program is the favorite for ESPN Junior 300 No. 7 Lyndell Wilson. That’s because the nation's No. 1 outside linebacker known as “Mack” is going to be tough to pull out of state, as has been the case in Alabama in the last three classes with arguably only one of 24 prospects coveted highly by the Crimson Tide and Tigers having inked with an out of state program.

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BUFORD, Ga. -- There is an ongoing argument among fans from the states of California, Florida and Texas about which state produces the best football talent. For years it was a two-state race between California and Texas due to shear numbers of prospects that signed with Division I universities on an annual basis. In recent years, Florida has been much more in the conversation and is now arguably the most talented state when factoring in FBS signees, Power 5 signees and NFL draft choices vs. California and Texas who have a much higher population.
[+] EnlargeTrenton Thompson
Radi Nabulsi/ESPNGeorgia signee Trenton Thompson was the Peach State's top prospect in the 2015 class.
The state of Georgia will never ink the most FBS players in a singular year. That much is known. It's simply a numbers game in that regard and the Peach State's population in 2014 was 10 million compared to nearly 39 million in California, 27 milllion in Texas and closing in on 20 million in Florida. But an argument can be made that the Peach State is actually the top talent producer in terms of top tier or elite talent. Let's take a peek at some numbers that illustrate why the Peach State can make an argument as the top talent producer.

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BUFORD, Ga. -- Auburn and Georgia have been battling over top prospects in the Peach State for many a year. In the class of 2016, it’s an uber talented collection of defensive linemen who will lead to what are sure to be bloodbath recruitments, and there is none bigger than 6-foot-6, 325-pound Julian Rochester. The No. 32-ranked prospect in the ESPN Junior 300 has been considered an Auburn lean for some time due in large part to a very strong relationship between the dominant defensive lineman and Auburn assistant Rodney Garner.

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video The UCLA Bruins certainly had a productive Monday on the trail. Jim Mora Jr. and staff picked up a pair of commitments, including a second ESPN Junior 300 prospect in inside linebacker Lokeni Toailoa to go with prior verbal and No. 57-ranked Breland Brandt. Significance of impact: The battle for Los Angeles and Southern California is a fierce one, and seemingly always an uphill battle for UCLA vs. arch rival USC. That’s why Monday was a huge for the Bruins, as creating early momentum and sustaining said momentum is huge in holding off out-of-state programs such as Oregon, Notre Dame, Michigan and Ohio State. Toailoa combines with recent pledge Krystopher Barnes to give the Bruins a terrific pair of inside linebacker prospects.

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video With more than 400 prospects in attendance at the Atlanta Nike The Opening regional camp on Sunday there were several trending topics scene and heard throughout the day. Here's a closer look at some of the top trends from Sunday's events.

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