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October 1, 2010

The top 10: Most surprising commitments

MORE: The Rivals250 | 2011 Team Rankings

In the recruiting world, surprising commitments occur all the time and with the class of 2011, there have already been plenty. While some of the biggest stunners occur closer to Signing Day, already there have been many commitments that have raised eyebrows around the country.

In our new weekly Top 10 feature, Rivals.com's recruiting analyst give their opinion on which commitments surprised the most, led by a four-star from California who chose a non-BCS school.

Top 10 Surprise Commitments
10) DE Nathan Hughes
Committed to: Oklahoma
Buzz: It was not a huge surprise when the Spring (Texas) Klein Oak four-star defensive end committed to Oklahoma, but it was how he arrived as a Sooner commit that was a bit surprising. Hughes made no secret of his affinity for the University of Texas and most expected him to be a Longhorn. He was the only prospect at the first Texas junior day not to be offered by Mack Brown and company. Oklahoma quickly amped up their pursuit of the big defender and now the lifelong Texas fan is committed to their archirival and is probably the strongest Sooner commit in the class.
Committed to: Pittsburgh
Buzz: Wright was thought to be a Penn State lock from the beginning of the process and even right up until his commitment to Pitt. While there has been some talk of the Nittany Lions backing off Wright near the end, it's unclear whether that is sour grapes or actually true, especially since defensive tackle is such a need for PSU. Regardless, for Pitt to swoop in and steal the most coveted defensive tackle in the Northeast and a top Penn State target was a bit surprising.
Committed to: Nebraska
Buzz: Mitchel exploded onto the scene this spring with a big performance at the Fort Worth NIKE Camp to become the top-ranked corner in the state of Texas. It is no surprise that Nebraska got involved as they have done well recruiting top Texas defenders. However, Mitchel is the son of former Oklahoma standout Eric Mitchel and has strong ties to Arkansas. Even with offers from both the Sooners and Razorbacks on the table, he chose the Huskers.
Committed to: Washington
Buzz: The four-star running back committed to Washington without ever seeing the campus but the Huskies stuck with him after he injured his ACL for the first time and so Bigelow felt a sense of obligation to the Pac-10 school. Bigelow's mother lives near Seattle so there is a family connection there but there have been rumors the Fresno Central East standout might reconsider things before Signing Day.
Committed to: Florida State
Buzz: By the time the announcement occurred Wilder's decision to go to Florida State was no longer a shocker, but for a kid that had been penciled in as a lock to Florida since early in his recruitment and who had so many ties to the Georgia program, the final decision for the Seminoles remained somewhat of a surprise.

Committed to: Nebraska
Buzz: It had long been assumed that the Rivals250 quarterback would be an early Notre Dame pledge, especially after taking two visits to South Bend in the spring. His commitment to the Irish was almost seen as a mere formality. Nebraska was a surprising destination especially considering the Huskers already had another four-star quarterback in Jamal Turner committed, but the Huskers did a great job of swinging him.
Committed to: Washington
Buzz: The four-star tight end talked often this summer about Texas being his favorite and after a good visit to Austin and an offer it looked like the Longhorns were going to get Seferian-Jenkins. But the Gig Harbor, Wash., prospect decided in the days leading up to his commitment that Texas wasn't the best fit and chose to stay closer to home and play for Steve Sarkisian's club.

3) QB Phillip Ely
Committed to: Alabama
Buzz: No one really had a great read on where Phillip Ely would be heading but there were several schools that seemed to be more likely destinations than Alabama including Ole Miss, Clemson and LSU. Ely did a great job of keeping his decision under wraps until his announcement. With a slew of quarterbacks waiting in the wings in Tuscaloosa, the landscape doesn't seem favorable for early playing time but with his commitment Ely showed a desire to compete.
Committed to: Notre Dame
Buzz: One of the top defensive ends in the country, Tuitt was on the top of everyone's list, particularly schools in the southeast. Not only was Notre Dame able to steal him out of Georgia but his addition along with the commitment of Aaron Lynch gives Notre Dame arguably the top defensive end tandem in the 2011 class. Everyone expected Tuitt to land at Georgia Tech, his longtime leader, but when he visited South Bend it was over.
Committed to: SMU
Buzz: Moreland turned down offers from USC, UCLA, Texas A&M, Washington, Oregon State, Arizona, Arizona State and others when he committed to SMU this summer in one of the biggest head-scratching moves this recruiting cycle. One of Moreland's coaches said the four-star defensive end wanted to be a big fish in a small pond so SMU is a better fit than those Pac-10 teams.



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