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November 7, 2012

Mind of Mike: Mother knows best

MIND OF MIKE: Oct. 31 | Oct. 24 | Oct. 17 | Oct.10

Mike Farrell is the National Football Recruiting Analyst for Rivals.com. Want more of what's on Mike's mind throughout the week? Follow him on Twitter @rivalsmike.

Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell is never shy to express his opinion on everything from commitments to rankings to how on-field performance affects recruiting. In this weekly feature -- Inside the Mind of Mike -- the most experienced analyst in the industry gives some of his thoughts on the events of the past week.

Deep thoughts

The mothers of two big-time recruits in Georgia have been in the news quite a bit lately.

First it was the mother of Loganville (Ga.) Grayson defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, the nation's No. 1 player, and then it was the mom of Vienna (Ga.) Dooly County defensive tackle Montravius Adams, the nation's No. 16 player and No. 2 defensive tackle.

Nkemdiche's mother, Beverly, has been very outspoken over the last week when it comes to her wishes that Robert play at Ole Miss with his brother, Denzel Nkemdiche, for ease of travel for the family as well as avoiding the brothers playing against each other.

While Nkemdiche is still committed to Clemson, it seems inevitable now that he will sign with Ole Miss. What that does to Clemson in regards to his teammates, Wayne Gallman and David Kamara, is anyone's guess.

Nkemdiche and his mother have said they won't make a decision until Signing Day. And it appears that Alabama, if it can get him (and his mom) on campus, could be a bigger threat to Ole Miss than even Clemson, where Beverly said she is not visiting.

What is truly puzzling about this whole thing is the claim by Nkemdiche's mother that she has never been contacted by Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney. That is simply puzzling and clearly a huge oversight in this process.

As for Adams, it has become clear that his mom, Debbie Young, will have a huge hand in his college decision, and the duo's recent visit to Georgia could put the Dawgs in the lead.

Adams' mom has been much more low-key than Nkemdiche's mom, but she apparently loved the trip; and Athens and the UGA campus have become some of her favorite places.

Auburn, Alabama and Clemson are the other schools often mentioned with Adams. He has also visited Michigan State, Florida State, Tennessee and Florida, although those schools don't appear to be in the lead group.

Adams and his mom will be heading to Clemson this weekend to meet Swinney and the staff, so at least Dabo will be meeting with one of the moms of his top targets in Georgia.

It is obviously very common for family members to have a huge impact on where a prospect goes to college, but I can't remember the last time two five-stars from the same state had such influential mothers who would be potentially dictating their decisions.

From here on out, it will be clear that the schools hoping to land Nkemdiche and Adams will be recruiting mom as feverishly as the players themselves. Early prediction on Adams? Georgia and Mark Richt take this one home.

The Alex Anzalone saga is over -- it appears. After proclaiming Florida the undisputed winner of this battle a couple of weeks ago, it is now time to show off my impressive backpedal, but with good reason.

Following his visit to Gainesville for the LSU game, I still have little doubt that Anzalone told the Gators staff he was coming despite being committed to Notre Dame.

I also have no doubt he had essentially eliminated Notre Dame, again despite being committed, when he cancelled his official visit for the BYU game.

However, a call from Irish defensive coordinator Bob Diaco a week ago Sunday changed everything. Anzalone scheduled his unofficial visit for the days after the Pitt game and headed into that visit still a strong Florida lean in my opinion.

He and his family discussed everything from how he'd be coached and what role he would fill on the football field to how he could study pre-med in South Bend, and now he has re-affirmed his commitment to the Irish.

On Monday, Anzalone wrote on Twitter, "First off, I want to thank the coaches who have been supportive of me throughout my recruitment. There have been many highs and lows but when it came down to it I had to find the best fit for me. I have developed close relationships with many GREAT coaches, but at the end of the day I had to choose one school. I have been committed to ND since July. With that, I want to reaffirm my commitment to Notre Dame and shut down my recruitment completely with all other schools."

Anzalone told the Gators coaches before he made this announcement, and this whole thing appears to be over. From Ohio State to Notre Dame to Florida (not out loud) this has been an interesting recruitment to follow and one thing is certain: Diaco swooped in and saved the day for Notre Dame.

This kid has the potential to be the next great linebacker in South Bend. If Notre Dame wasn't 9-0 and the defense wasn't playing like it was, this would have been one that slipped away like Omar Hunter and Justin Trattou in the past. This is a new Notre Dame in many ways.

Anzalone is now hoping to have some high-profile uncommitted recruits join him in Indiana, and at the top of the list has to be California safety Max Redfield, who just de-committed from USC.

While Redfield said the Trojans are still on his list, the feeling of many is now that Notre Dame and Oregon will be battling this one out, with Washington a dark horse.

Everything changed after Redfield took his official visit to Notre Dame for its home game against Stanford, so the Irish have a good shot here.

But I think he de-committed so he could visit Oregon. Remember, Chip Kelly has that ridiculous rule that he won't allow committed prospects to visit the Ducks (unless their name is D'Anthony Thomas) and Redfield really wants to visit Oregon.

This will be one of a few de-commitments from USC between now and Signing Day, I believe, for many different reasons. The Trojans have very tight scholarship numbers, and I don't think they'd mind punting a few current commits.

However, even with a disappointing season, they will re-load and likely replace Redfield with either Tahaan Goodman or Leon McQuay III. Make no mistake about it, Redfield is a guy USC wanted badly and this one hurts.

Speaking of Oregon, the Ducks could be a team that closes as strong as anyone. In addition to being in the thick of things for Redfield and McQuay, you can bet other highly rated committed and uncommitted prospects will start looking at the Ducks.

While this is the best Oregon defense under Kelly, immediate playing time is obviously available in some spots, as was proven by USC's offensive performance this past Saturday. And on offense, there is no more attractive school in the country.

Terrell Newby, who is emerging as arguably the No. 1 back in California, had to be impressed with Kenjon Barner's performance this past weekend and could be leaning to the Ducks. You know Kelly will go after some USC commits as well. Watch for some interesting things closer to Signing Day for Oregon.

Oh, and while Anzalone threw me for a bit of a loop, I told you that defensive backs would start flocking to Notre Dame. Cole Luke is the first, and his commitment was huge for the Irish. I still think Redfield will choose between ND and Oregon, and who knows what Mackensie Alexander is thinking.

L.J. Moore will probably stay on the West Coast, but after the Tee Shepard and Deontay Greenberry debacles last year, maybe Fresno isn't the place for the Irish to be looking for players, anyhow.

I also think UCLA will finish very strong. The 66-10 win over a 5-3 (at the time) Arizona team that has some impressive wins over Oklahoma State, Washington and especially USC has recruits in California buzzing about the Bruins. They are now squarely in the mix for Goodman, lead for Devon Allen and are inching closer with players such as Newby, Joe Mathis, Priest Willis and others.

USC will likely win the recruiting title, but the Pac-12 is going to have some strong finishes if the Bruins and Ducks keep winning.

I know no one is really noticing that much because they aren't eligible for a bowl game and they aren't allowed to be ranked in the BCS, but Urban Meyer is two games away from an undefeated season at Ohio State. What do you think that will do for recruiting not only down the stretch but for 2014 and beyond? Can you imagine the hype the Buckeyes will have nationally heading into next year if they win out?

Joker Phillips is the first BCS coach to fall in what looks to be a moderately active offseason. Next up? Frank Spaziani at Boston College, John L. Smith at Arkansas, Danny Hope at Purdue, Derek Dooley at Tennessee and I think Jeff Tedford at Cal and Gene Chizik at Auburn are gone as well.

What this means even more than the head coaches being gone is the amount of shifting around the assistants will be doing. Only Auburn is recruiting at a national top-10 level, but keep in mind that the coaches who fill these jobs, guys such as Charlie Strong, Kirby Smart, James Franklin or others will have a major impact on how we close out 2013.

Quick Hitters

If poor coaching decisions affect recruiting, then LSU's Les Miles and Pitt's Paul Chryst hurt themselves on national television in huge games. However, it's doubtful snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against Alabama and Notre Dame, respectively, will hurt. In fact, both performances will likely aid recruiting as the atmosphere in Baton Rouge was insane, and LSU still made Alabama look human in front of a ton of recruits.

A win could have led to bigger leads for Kendell Beckwith and Tim Williams and might have tipped the scale with Ricky Seals-Jones, but again it looks like it didn't hurt.

As for Pitt, nearly beating Notre Dame on national TV will only help in efforts to keep players such as wide receiver Robert Foster and offensive lineman Dorian Johnson, both homebodies to start with, at home.

But the special teams gaffes (LSU's fake field goal and onside kick and Pitt not centering the ball for a game-winning field goal attempt in the second overtime) are still maddening to watch, and there is no doubt that wins would have pushed efforts forward dramatically.

Oh, and Brian Kelly might want to stick with Everett Golson, the guy who has essentially led Notre Dame to the best start in forever and bailed them out against Pitt. Golson has his flaws, but he's perfect for Kelly's system. And if he continues to improve, Gunner Kiel might be regretting his two de-commitments (one more than Anzalone I might add) from an Indiana team that could win the Big Ten and an LSU team that could use a consistent quarterback. Current ND commitment Malik Zaire looks like a lefty Golson, and he could be the next quarterback at Notre Dame to get a start down the line.

Speaking of coaching either luring or pushing recruits away, how about Washington State coach Mike Leach being unable to stay out of his own way. The Cougs are 2-7, and Leach is throwing his players under the bus. That's not going to lure them to Pullman.

Prayers go out to the family of Tahaan Goodman, whose brother was shot to death last weekend. Will this tragedy drive Goodman away from the L.A. area and away from USC and UCLA to perhaps LSU? Or will it make him want to stay local to be close to his mom and family? My guess is he picks either USC or UCLA in the end.

Both Texas and Texas A&M are 7-2 this season and 4-2 in their respective conferences. This may sound like an odd question to Longhorns fans, but based on their play this season, can anyone give me a reason why it's more attractive to choose Texas over the Aggies? Texas has beaten one ranked team (Texas Tech last weekend) and been destroyed by Oklahoma and lost to a West Virginia team exposed as a fraud.

the Aggies have beaten a ranked team in Mississippi State and lost close games they could have won against Florida and LSU, both top-10 programs.

With A&M in the SEC now and with what appears to be a bright future under Johnny Football, the days of A&M getting the scraps in state could be ending soon. This is an exciting football team with a terrific coach in Kevin Sumlin, and they are shocking a ton of people by being relevant in the SEC.

If they don't get drummed by Alabama and hang in there, they will have even more juice with recruits. And imagine if they win?

Speaking of the Aggies, they have 29 commitments now. They are in the race for Mike Mitchell, Ricky Seals-Jones and Justin Manning and just offered Tennessee commitment Kameron Miles. Can someone tell me what happened to the SEC signing limit of 25 players please? Look for some guys not to qualify, look for A&M to drop a few or look for a small class next year.



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