Te'o to USC? Top 10 recruiting what-ifs

Updated: November 1, 2012, 3:54 PM ET
By Travis Haney

The twists and turns on the road to signing day often leave fans, and coaches, with heartburn. But we thought it would be interesting this week to think about some recruiting what-ifs for impact players on top-10 (or so) teams.

How did a recruiting decision in the past four years make a difference for the school that got the player -- and/or the one that didn't? What if things had gone the other way?

Perhaps by no coincidence, suddenly resurgent Notre Dame is involved in several of the hypotheticals. And it is the school that landed the recruit each time.

I asked Tom Luginbill, ESPN's national recruiting director, to weigh in with some thoughts, as well.

1. Manti Te'o, LB

Went to: Notre Dame
Over: USC

Here's a scary thought: Te'o and Jarvis Jones playing together on the same defense. If things had cosmically gone a different way, for both players, it could have happened at the Coliseum. Jones was already there, and Te'o's not landing at USC was a big surprise at the time.

Luginbill does remind me that Jones -- even before the neck injury that eventually led to his transferring to Georgia -- was often hurt and was never an impact player for the Trojans. But picture Jones, as he has played this season for UGA, with Te'o on the same defense at USC. Isn't that a unit, when paired with the Trojans' offense, that could completely shift the BCS title race as it stands today?