CO-CHAMPS COLLIDE AT THE TOP
Here are SI's top five recruiting classes for 2004.
1. USC Early commitment from OL Jeff Byers of Colorado paved the
way for coast-to-coast haul that included LB Keith Rivers of
Florida and WR Dwayne Jarrett of New Jersey.
2. LSU Quickly turning into Wideout U with addition of speedsters
Xavier Carter of Florida and Early Doucet of Louisiana.
3. FLORIDA STATE Prized in-state QBs Xavier Lee and Drew
Weatherford will provide competition for incumbent Chris Rix.
4. MIAMI Addressed TB shortage by reeling in four, including
local star Bobby Washington.
5. MICHIGAN RBs Max Martin and Mike Hart will have chance to play
LINEBACKER IN LIMBO
Linebacker Willie Williams regaled Miami Herald readers with a
recruiting diary in which he recounted dining in style at Florida
State ("four lobster tails, two steaks and a Shrimp Scampi") and
riding in Miami coach Larry Coker's Escalade ("Dang, coach got
some taste.") Apparently Williams, who signed with Miami, left a
few things out. On Monday he was charged with misdemeanor battery
stemming from an incident in which he hugged a woman against her
will during his Jan. 30 recruiting visit to Florida. (Two other
charges are pending.) That put him in violation of the probation
he was serving for his role in a 2002 burglary, and a warrant was
issued for his arrest. Williams's lawyer, Paul Lazarus,
characterized the hug as "pretty innocuous" and wondered "if
maybe the University of Florida is miffed [about his not signing
with the Gators]." Miami officials, who were unaware of
Williams's record, said they'd "review the information and come
to an appropriate conclusion" regarding his status.
TURMOIL IN BOULDER
When coach Gary Barnett arrived at Colorado in 1998, a year after
a Boulder teenager alleged she'd been raped at a party for
Buffaloes football recruits (no criminal charges were filed), he
pledged to clean up a program that had committed 51 NCAA
recruiting violations under predecessor Rick Neuheisel. Now
Barnett, who instituted a curfew for visiting prospects and
issued a recruiting handbook outlining the dangers of alcohol and
sex, is faced with a scandal on his own watch. Three women have
sued the university, claiming they were raped at an on-campus
party in December 2001 that was attended by football players and
recruits. At the heart of their allegations is the assertion that
the school fosters a culture in which alcohol and sex are used to
attract prospective football players, a claim Barnett has
vehemently denied. Last week the school appointed an independent
investigative panel to look into Colorado's recruiting practices.
A CARDINAL QUANDARY
Louisville's top signee, quarterback Brian Brohm, says coach
Bobby Petrino told him he'd compete next season for the starting
quarterback job. So where does that leave Michael Bush?
Kentucky's Mr. Football in 2002, the 6'3", 240-pound Bush signed
with the Cardinals in '03 with an explicit desire to play QB; he
saw spot duty there as a freshman and was also used at tailback
and wideout. "It'd be great if we could be on the field at the
same time," Brohm says. "I'd love to hand off or throw to him."
Last month Petrino met with Bush to convince him that he's better
suited to running back. Said Petrino on signing day, "I believe
he'll be one of the best tailbacks ever to play college
COLOR PHOTO: COURTESY OF AL BYERS BYERS
COLOR PHOTO: SANG H. PARK/MIAMI HERALD WILLIAMS
COLOR PHOTO: HELEN H. RICHARDSON, THE DENVER POST BARNETT
COLOR PHOTO: ED REINKE/AP BROHM