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COLLEGE FOOTBALL RECRUITING

It's decision day for college football recruits

Heralded prospects will influence the fortunes of many schools on what is an anxious day for coaches and fans.

February 04, 2009|ERIC SONDHEIMER

An actual national football championship won't be won today, but in the absence of any real games college fans will nevertheless either enjoy or suffer through -- most likely a combination of both -- wins and losses by their favorite teams.

So it goes on national letter-of-intent day for high school football seniors, when the decisions made by a select group of prospects will influence the fortunes of college programs across the country.

Ohio State's projected class is ranked No. 1 starting the day by two prominent websites, Scout.com and Rivals.com. But USC, Louisiana State and Alabama all have a chance to climb to the top depending on some late decisions.

USC could challenge for the No. 1 recruiting class depending on what linebacker Manti Te'o of Honolulu Punahou decides. The Trojans and UCLA have spent so much time and money on travel expenses for recruiters visiting Hawaii to woo Te'o that someone is going to have some explaining to do if he doesn't pick their school.

Te'o, 6 feet 2 and 225 pounds, was Hawaii's Gatorade player of the year. He's ranked by Scout.com as the No. 6 player in the nation. He visited USC last weekend and would help the Trojans overcome the potential loss of Vontaze Burfict, a linebacker from Corona Centennial who had long ago committed to USC but is leaning toward signing with Arizona State because of academic concerns, according to his coach, Matt Logan.

USC is also in the running for 6-5, 285-pound lineman Xavier Su'a-Filo from Provo (Utah) Timpview. And there's talk that the No. 1 prospect in the nation, running back Bryce Brown from Wichita East (Kan.), won't sign today and is looking at the Trojans, Oregon, Miami, Kansas State and Clemson.

It could be a nerve-racking day as college football coaches hang out at fax machines this morning, waiting for confirmation of their recruiting efforts.

Tom Luginbill, national recruiting director for ESPN and Scout Inc., said Ohio State has risen to the top because it's "considered the USC of the Big Ten. They make a concerted effort to dip down into the South to supplement their roster with speed and athleticism."

Scout.com and Rivals.com both have Louisiana State No. 2 in their recruiting rankings. Scout has USC No. 5 and Rivals has the Trojans No. 3. UCLA is No. 16 and No. 19, respectively.

There have been lots of done and undone commitments during a sometimes strange recruiting process in which teenagers keep changing their minds.

No one better fits the roller-coaster-like process than Harbor City Narbonne defensive back Byron Moore Jr., who originally committed to UCLA, switched to USC, then dropped USC but now has the Trojans back in the mix with Colorado and Notre Dame.

"You knew Pete Carroll wasn't going to give up," Moore's father, Byron Sr., said, referring to USC's coach.

Moore Jr. will announce his decision this morning on ESPNU, which is devoting nine hours of nonstop coverage to signing day.

Another player going back and forth has been Los Angeles Cathedral defensive back and receiver Randall Carroll, who had committed to USC but has been wooed by UCLA.

And, just as members of the 2009 class are making their final decisions, college coaches will be wasting little time in starting to make offers to the class of 2010. It supposedly includes some real program-makers.

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Early birds

Top seniors from Southland high schools who have committed (*already enrolled):

USC

Matt Barkley*, QB, Santa Ana Mater Dei.

James Boyd, DE, L.A. Jordan.

Patrick Hall, DB, Ventura St. Bonaventure.

Kevin Graf, OL, Agoura.

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UCLA

Richard Brehaut, QB, Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos.

Stanjarivus McKay, DB, Long Beach Poly.

Morrell Presley*, TE, Carson.

Iuta Tepa, DE, Long Beach Poly.

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OTHERS

Allan Bridgford, QB, Mission Viejo. California

Shaquelle Evans, WR, Inglewood. Notre Dame

For the entire list of committed Southland players go to latimes.com/sports/highschool/

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