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January 30, 2012

UCLA among late surprises in final days

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Rivals.com's football recruiting analysts weigh in on a question of a day through National Signing Day on Wednesday.

Today's question: What program has surprised you most - in a good way - for where it currently sits in the team standings less than 48 hours from NSD?

Mike Farrell: UCLA is the big surprise for me. Coach Jim Mora has done a great job and has his team knocking on the door of a top 10 class. Landing Ellis McCarthy and Devin Fuller, two guys no one expected to choose the Bruins, has been impressive and the class looks strong from top to bottom.

Adam Gorney: Let's take a look at UCLA and the job they Bruins have done in the past few weeks. They flipped five-star defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy from California right after the Army Bowl and then on Sunday landed four-star athlete Devin Fuller, who will provide a dual-threat quarterback option. UCLA had become a little stale under coach Rick Neuheisel in his final year or so, but Mora and especially his assistant coaches have breathed new life into the program. A lot of top California players are strongly considering the Bruins and it should only get better moving forward. As of Monday morning, UCLA topped the Pac-12 recruiting rankings. That could change by National Signing Day but it's impressive how well the Bruins are doing.

Josh Helmholdt: Certainly what Urban Meyer has done at Ohio State in two months is nothing short of amazing. This class looked dead in the water in October - not nearly as talented as we expect from Ohio State and in jeopardy of losing more commitments to rival teams. Since he was announced as head coach on Nov. 28, Meyer has landed nine Rivals250 prospects and retained another that looked to be long gone. The Buckeyes currently sit at No. 3 in the national team rankings and may not be done yet.

Chris Nee: Al Golden and Miami have done an excellent job when you take everything into account. The Hurricanes had a mediocre 2011 season, opted out of a bowl game, and face some uncertainty with their future due to an ongoing NCAA investigation. But Miami has been able to assemble a top 10 class that includes 10 prospects ranked four stars or better. Miami has a lot of attractive qualities such as location, tradition and NFL products, but Golden and his staff deserve a lot of credit for the constant effort on the recruiting trail and the ability to overcome some obstacles.

Keith Niebuhr: To me, it's Miami. With all the negative things that came out last year about the program, the Hurricanes look as if they're headed for a top-10 finish, and might even land a spot in the top five. Al Golden and his staff deserve a ton of credit for putting together such a solid group - and you get the feeling Miami isn't finished. A few big-namers still have the Hurricanes in the mix.

Brian Perroni: Texas A&M has done a very good job to be in the Top 10 considering the Aggies had a disappointing season on the field. Even with a coaching change, they managed to keep nearly the entire class together as well as add Rivals100 cornerback DeVante Harris. If they can add Thomas Johnson on signing day it will go down as one of the best classes in school history.



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