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Insider

W. Va., Rutgers, Pitt looking good in Big East


Louisville

Selling point: Coming off a 12-1 season, took part in two of the biggest ESPN Thursday night games, developing into a national championship contender, new coach in Steve Kragthorpe.

2007 class highlights: The Cardinals' success on the field has not translated into recruiting success thus far this year with high school prospects, with four of their commits so far coming from postgraduate, junior college or late qualifying players. Two good pick-ups at running back in Doug Beaumont (Louisville, Ky. / Male) and Dale Martin (Bolingbrook, Ill.) will help its already strong running game.

Could see on the field in 2007: Beaumont, Martin, late qualifier Sam Gardner (Lexington, Ky. / Henry Clay).


Rutgers

Selling point: Won first bowl game in school history. Become a fan favorite in the tri-state area and even across the country. One of the nation's top rushing attacks.

2007 class highlights: Rutgers' rise has been reflected in recruiting also. The Scarlet Knights have managed to keep two in-state ESPN 150 prospects close to home; guard Anthony Davis (Piscataway, N.J.) gives Rutgers a big blocker to help that run game, and linebacker Manny Abreu (Union City, N.J./Union Hill) is a versatile athlete with good upside. In addition to Davis on the O-line, it has also added big offensive tackles Desmond Stapleton (Union, NJ) and Richard Muldrow (York, Pa. / William Penn). It's also happy to have Joe Martinek (Hopatcong, NJ), who didn't garner much national attention but won countless player of the year awards in New Jersey. He'll be a player to watch down the road.

On defense, Rutgers landed four defensive end prospects, including Desmond Wynn (Wilmington, Del./Saint Marks).

Could see on the field in 2007: Davis, Abreu, Robinson, TE Fabian Ruiz (Miami, Fla./Sunset).


West Virginia

Selling point: Had the nation's No. 2 rushing attack, coaching stability with Rich Rodriguez, coming off two straight bowl wins.

2007 class highlights: The Mountaineers are looking to maintain their fearsome ground attack by landing three running backs. Jock Sanders (Saint Petersburg, Fla./Catholic) is an electrifying scat-back who should fit nicely, Terrence Kerns (Frederick, Md./Governor Thomas Johnson) is an aggressive power back and Victor Anderson (Louisville/St. Xavier) can wiggle out of trouble. They also have commitments from a trio of quarterbacks, including hometown Charlie Russell (Morgantown, W. Va.), a pocket passer and a departure from what they have in Patrick White, and Bradley Starks (Orange, Va.), more of a dual-threat quarterback.

The defense has commitments from several safety prospects including top 20 safety Sidney Glover (Warren, Ohio / Warren G. Harding) who decommitted from Indiana to join the Mountaineers class. They also added a versatile defensive lineman in Junius Lewis (Morgantown, W. Va.).

Could see on the field in 2007: Sanders, Kerns, Glover.


South Florida

Selling point: Coming off a nine-win season that included an upset of West Virginia, coming off first bowl victory in the PapaJohns.com Bowl, uses a spread offense.

2007 class highlights: The Bulls have been adding talent to both sides of the ball. Alton Voss (New Port Richey, Fla. / Gulf) is a dual-threat quarterback with excellent overall physical tools, and Sampson Genus (Lake City, Fla. / Columbia) is an underrated center. On defense, linebacker Calvin Sutton (Deland, Fla.) is a physical prospect and DT Terrell McClain (Pensacola, Fla.) has a motor that doesn't quit. South Florida has also picked up two junior college prospects, including linebacker Donte Spires out of Pearl River CC in Miss.

Could see on the field in 2007: McClain, Sutton, Spires.


Cincinnati

Selling point: Had a four win improvement in 2006, coming off a bowl a victory in the International Bowl, has made five bowl appearances in seven years, new head coach Brian Kelly has quickly risen up the ranks and had success.

2007 class highlights: Kelly likes to throw the ball and will need to see if quarterback commit Chazz Anderson (Pickerington, Ohio/Central) can be his guy for the future. At this point, the Bearcats have only two other offensive commitments. In-state DT Rob Trigg (Dayton, Ohio / Chaminade-Julienne) is one of two defensive line commits.

Could see on the field in 2007: Postgrad safety Keith Dixon (Flint, Mich. / Harmony), Trigg.


Pittsburgh

Selling point: Lots of history, led by former NFL head coach Dave Wannstedt.

2007 class highlights: With the departure of starter Tyler Palko, the Panthers added a top-15 quarterback prospect in Pat Bostick (Lancaster, Pa. / Manheim Township). Pitt struggled to move the ball on the ground on offense, so several running back prospects will look to pick up the slack, led by , LeSean McCoy (Harrisburg, Pa./Milford Academy), one of the top running backs from the Class of '06, who has reportedly committed, and Xavier Stinson (Hollywood, Fla. / Chaminade-Madonna). Also, don't forget No. 6 fullback Henry Hynoski (Catawissa, Pa./Southern Columbia) to help open holes.

The offensive line has also been addressed, and Chris Jacobson (Pittsburgh/Keystone Oaks) is one of the more physical guards in this class.

Pittsburgh was one of the worst in the nation in defending the run in 2006, so DEs Myles Caragein (Pittsburgh/Keystone Oaks) and Tony Tucker (Washington, D.C./Saint Johns College) have been added. Pitt also went to the junior college ranks to try and get some immediate help by adding Tommie Duhart out of Coffeyville Community College. Safety Maurice Williams (Erie, Pa./Strong Vincent) gives Pittsburgh an excellent athlete in the secondary.

Could see on the field in 2007: Bostick, Williams, Jacobson, Stinson, Duhart.



Connecticut

Selling point: Still a fairly young Division I program, had the nation's 13th ranked rushing attack in 2006.

2007 class highlights: The Huskies had a solid run game in 2006 but struggled to move the ball through the air. They have tried to address that with some of their recruiting moves. They have commitments from two wide receivers, including Jonathan Jean-Louis (Arlington, Mass. / Arlington Catholic), a tough playmaker. They lost a big commitment from in-state TE Aaron Hernandez (Bristol, Conn./Central) but rebounded and picked up versatile TE Yianni Apostolakos (Rochester, N.Y./Pittsford Mendon). Two quarterbacks are ready to head to Storrs, including junior college transfer Tyler Lorenzen from Palomar in California.

As far as upping it's 82nd ranked defense, DE Danny Russell (Saint Augustine, Fla./Nease) leads the way along with Gary Bardzak (Pottsville, Pa.), the best of four linebacker commits. It also have two post graduate pick-ups on defense, led by cornerback Jamie Nixon (North Haven, Conn. / Bridgton Academy), who signed with the team last year.

Could see on the field in 2007: Nixon, Jean-Louis, Apostolakos.


Syracuse

Selling point: A once very successful program in the Big East, improved by three wins in 2006.

2007 class highlights: At the top of the recruiting list is 2006 ESPN 150 signee Andrey Baskin (Camden, NJ / Milford), who needed the prep route to qualify for this year. The 'Cuse has also added two other receivers, including Da'Mon Merkerson (Passaic, N.J./Saint Mary's), to try and help its 103rd-ranked passing offense. Cody Catalina (Greensburg, Pa./Central Catholic) is one of two quarterback commitments, and running back Doug Hogue (Yonkers, N.Y./Roosevelt) is a solid pick-up.

The defense has seen two strong pick-ups. Defensive tackle Bud Tribbey (Richmond,Va./Varina) is among the top 20 at his position and is one of seven defensive line commits. Safety Max Suter (Greensburg, Pa./Central Catholic) is not the most athletic player, but he knows how to make plays.

Could see on the field in 2007: Baskin, Tribbey, Suter, Merkerson.

Teams appear in order of 2006 finish.

Craig Haubert is recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. Drop Craig a line in his mailbag.