How we got here: Memphis' 2012 class

Wynton McManis

When Larry Porter was fired in late November after going 2-10 last season at the University of Memphis, the ultimate quality of the 2012 recruiting class was immediately imperiled.

When Larry Porter was fired in late November after going 2-10 last season at the University of Memphis, the ultimate quality of the 2012 recruiting class was immediately imperiled.

Before he was let go, Porter had secured arguably the best commitment since DeAngelo Williams in Ridgeway athlete Sheldon Dawson. He also landed heralded Melrose quarterback Will Gross and other local talented prospects.

Memphis hired then-TCU co-offensive coordinator Justin Fuente to replace Porter and attempt to keep a small but impressive recruiting class intact. While Dawson ultimately decided for Georgia this week, Fuente and his staff have put together a decent class within Conference USA and, outside of Dawson, kept defections to a minimum.

Here's a comprehensive look at how we got to Feb. 1, 2012.

July 8, 2011
Columbia Central athlete Eric Belew commits, becoming the first verbal commitment of Porter's 2012 class.

July 13, 2011
Olive Branch linebacker Wynton McManis commits to Memphis.

July 19, 2011
Porter nabs Melrose quarterback Will Gross in what was most likely his biggest recruiting victory – at the time – as Memphis coach.

July 25, 2011
Ridgeway athlete Sheldon Dawson shocks the world and announces his commitment to Porter and the Tigers, choosing them over Tennessee and Georgia.

July 29, 2011
Carl Mitchell and Daniel Hurd, a pair of prospects at Wooddale, commit to Memphis in front of City Hall. Their commitments would be the last Porter would receive as the coach at Memphis.

Nov. 26, 2011
Memphis closes a 2-10 season on a 44-7 loss to Southern Miss in what ultimately was Porter's last game at Memphis.

Nov. 27, 2011
Larry Porter is fired after going 3-21 in two seasons at Memphis.

Dec. 5, 2011
Eric Belew becomes the first de-commitment post-Porter.

Dec. 8, 2011
TigerAuthority.com is the first to report the news that TCU co-offensive coordinator Justin Fuente will be hired as the next coach at Memphis.

Fuente had not even two months to compile a recruiting class, and while he ultimately missed out on Dawson, the class he has constructed isn't a bad one.

With additions of solid offensive linemen like Markeith Minnick and Antonio Foster, who are physically ready to step in and compete for starting spots, Fuente addressed the pressing needs of a 2-10 football program. He also landed several defensive backs that should make immediate impacts in a secondary that was one of the worst in the nation last season. His best recruiting job of the entire season, however, was landing Texas Tech transfer Jacob Karam, who figures to be the starter for the Tigers next season.

While the Tigers' 2012 class isn't brimming with flashy skill position players, it is a solid one upon which Fuente can build in future years.

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