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January 29, 2011

Rutgers roars into spotlight

MORE NOTES: Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Full NSD coverage

Even though National Signing Day arrives on Wednesday, the weekend goes somewhat silent as the remaining uncommitted, top-level prospects visit colleges one final time before making a decision.

So Rutgers - of all schools - remained as the biggest buzz on Saturday morning after it scored a big victory late Friday. Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep four-star running back Savon Huggins brought an end to suspenseful recruitment when he chose the Scarlet Knights.

Huggins, however, couldn't make it easy on Rutgers fans. He put a North Carolina hat on to indicate he would become a Tar Heel.

But Huggins quickly took that hat off, unveiling a Rutgers hat underneath of it.

"I came up with that idea probably around October," said Huggins. "I was going to do it somehow, some way with the two schools."

The addition of Huggins is likely to bolster the Rutgers rushing attack, and addressing some of the offensive line issues was instrumental in luring Huggins to Piscataway.

"I told Coach (Greg) Schiano in the beginning, my biggest issue is the offensive line," Huggins said. "He went out there and got (Dallas Hendrikson) from Iowa. He is trying to get another one from Cali (Fou Fonoti). Josue Matias, he wanted to go wherever I wanted to go."

Tradition wins

Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro four-star offensive lineman Cyrus Hobbi was the highest-rated uncommitted recruit in Arizona.

Until Friday, that is. That's when the nation's third-ranked offensive guard put an end to that by committing to USC. Tradition and education played key factors in his decision.

"I'll be attending the University of Southern California," said Hobbi, live in front of a regional television audience from Saguaro High School. "It was a very difficult decision with all of the schools I had to choose from.

"I was very impressed with all of the coaches and I had a great time meeting everybody, but at the end of the day going out there to USC, I knew it was the place for me. Walking out to the Coliseum and seeing all of these great, great players I'm going to be playing with soon with the recruiting class they're going to be getting ... we're going to be good in the next couple of years."

With coaches from USC, Arizona State and UCLA all making in-home visits with Hobbi this week, his commitment to the Trojans on Friday was not an easy one.

Paul switches to Miami

Lakeland (Fla.) Kathleen linebacker Gionni Paul was an Arizona State commitment when he took an official visit to Miami the weekend of Jan. 23.

And he remained committed to Arizona State after the visit.

But that's not the case anymore.

Paul is now a Miami Hurricane.

"It just came down to Auburn, Louisville, Miami and Arizona State," he said. "It came down to the people. They're great, down to earth people. I love the way coach (Al Golden) conducts himself, his program. He's big on discipline. I love the players. There's nothing bad to say about Miami."

More recruiting notes

Not only did LSU's commitment total grow by one Friday morning with the addition of Covington (La.) St. Paul's defensive tackle Mickey Johnson, but so did the class's distinctly thick state accent known as "The Fam".

Johnson, a four-star prospect and Rivals250 member, chose LSU over Arkansas and Tennessee after calling both LSU head coach Les Miles and his area recruiter - defensive backs coach Ron Cooper - with the news.

"Coach Miles sounded very excited and was happy he decided to become a Tiger," St. Paul's football coach Ken Sears said.

The 6-foot-1, 310-pound Johnson gives LSU its 22nd overall commitment and 16th pledge from the state.

Florida had been a threat throughout Graham Stewart's recruitment and on the final weekend before National Signing Day, the four-star inside linebacker who committed to Boston College in the summer finally decided to make the switch.

According to multiple reports, the Middletown (Conn.) Xavier prospect made the change on Friday soon after Florida mailed a letter of intent.

Stewart is expected to play in the Team USA vs. The World all-star event in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday - National Signing Day - and he's expected to sign with Florida a couple days later. Stewart confirmed with the Orlando Sentinel that he had de-committed from Boston College and picked the Gators.

Dallas (Texas) Seagoville tight end Andrew Peterson has officially visited Texas, Utah and Arkansas. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound prospect was set to make a final trip to Miami this weekend. However, Peterson canceled the trip.

According to Seagoville head coach Andy Gutierrez, Peterson has narrowed his choices to the three schools that have received official visits. Arkansas is thought to have a slight edge at this time. Peterson should announce around the end of this weekend.

Leading up to his much-anticipated announcement, five-star Thomasville (Ga.) Thomas County Central defensive end Ray Drew added to the suspense by hinting that his commitment would shock the recruiting world. But when he pledged to Georgia on Friday morning, nobody was surprised because it had been rumored all along that's where he was heading.

Drew later said he had known for "two or three weeks" he would play for Georgia. Only a week ago, however, there were some who thought Drew would spurn the Bulldogs for Auburn. But according to sources, Auburn didn't feel that way. And as Drew's announcement day approached, the Tigers apparently cancelled a scheduled in-home visit, sensing it might not be worth the time.

It wasn't easy to stay patient while hoping the bigger programs came around, but for Marietta (Ga.) Hillgrove linebacker Brandon Chubb it was worth the wait. Until a few days ago, he had planned on signing with Appalachian State. But when Wake Forest finally offered, Chubb quickly flipped to the Demon Deacons.

Euless (Texas) Trinity offensive tackle Nila Kasitati has gotten a lot of run from other schools as of late. The long time Baylor commit was on Oklahoma's campus earlier this week and is also looking at Utah as signing day nears. The good news for Baylor is that it gets the last shot at the high school tight end. Kasitati is in Waco this weekend for his official visit.

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