Friday, February 09, 2007

Class of 2008: Some Elite Tight Ends (Part III)

Aaron Douglas TE 6'7 240 4.90 Maryville Tennessee Tennessee

One of the state’s top overall prospects and one of the top tight ends in the nation…….Douglas was a consensus First Team Class 4A All-State selection and Class 4A Mr. Football award winner as a junior. He was also named to the Orlando Sentinel’s All-Southern team………He plays for one of the strongest programs in Tennessee and was a starter on their 2005 and 2006 state championship teams……..As a sophomore, he had 20 receptions for 236 yards and a score and excelled blocking……Has great size and is unusually agile. Wears a size 16 shoe……His father, David, played at Tennessee and in the NFL as an offensive lineman……..He committed to Tennessee in August of 2006.

Everette Thompson TE/DL 6'5 230 5.34 Burien Kennedy Washington

Thompson is among the nations better tight ends and one of the top overall prospects in Washington……As both a junior and sophomore he was a First Team All-Conference performer at both TE and on the defensive line……Helped lead his team to the state title game as a junior……Being recruited as both a DE and TE……. Looked good at the 2007 U.S. Army Combine…..2006 combine marks include a 5.34 forty, 25-inch vertical and 11 bench reps……As of early January he had received offers from Washington, Oregon and Washington State.

Mark Wedderburn TE/LB 6'6 230 4.72 Philadelphia Cardinal O'Hara Pennsylvania

Wedderburn is among the nation’s better TE prospects…….He is very athletic. He also stars in basketball, averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds per game as a junior…..He’s a tall and rangy athlete who will need to add about 20-30 pounds to play Division I ball…..Didn’t catch many passes as a junior as the team did not have an effective passer……..As a sophomore he had 287 receiving yards and 3 TDs…..Has excellent speed (4.72 combine forty) for a big guy and a 30-inch vertical…….He’s the younger brother of former Penn Stater Floyd Wedderburn……..As of late January he had offers from Pittsburgh, Virginia, Temple, Rutgers, Illinois and Boston College.

Tyler Edwards TE 6'3 232 4.71 Monroe Ouachita Louisiana

Edwards is among the top overall prospects in Louisiana and top tight ends in the South……As a junior he earned First Team Class 4A All-State honors after pulling in 22 passes for 328 yards and 4 TDs…….A bit smallish for a TE, but he has a frame that can add weight, has very quick feet and excels as a blocker. He’s a real downfield threat when catching the ball. He runs very good routes and has soft hands…..Really likes to mix it up and get physical….Excellent strength: 285 bench, 360 squat, 300 clean, plus a 29-inch vertical, 4.27 shuttle, 16 bench reps……His older brother is former LSU TE Eric Edwards……Should qualify easily…..As of mid-January he had offers from LSU, Auburn, Southern Mississippi, Louisiana Tech and Mississippi.

Jake Stoneburner TE/WR 6'5 220 4.53 Dublin Coffman Ohio

Stoneburner is one of the top skill prospects in Ohio and among the nations better TE prospects……..He plays WR in high school but has the size and frame to play TE in college…..As a junior he was named First Team All-Area by the Columbus Dispatch and was a First Team Central District-Division I selection after hauling in 63 passes for 946 yards (15.0 avg.) and 8 TDs. He also excelled as a punter and kickoff specialist…….As a sophomore he had 31 receptions for 538 yards and 5 scores……Plays for one of the top talent-producers in the Columbus area (think Brady Quinn)……Was impressive at the 2007 U.S. Army Combine, earning Second Team All-Combine honors after running a 4.53 forty and 4.37 shuttle……Has the athleticism (a very fine hurdler in track), speed and quicks to be a possession WR and the frame that could easily fill out to be a TE……Has very soft hands and ball skills……..3.5 GPA........As of mid-January he had offers from Iowa and Clemson.

Class of 2008: Some Elite Quarterbacks (Part III)

Darius Banks QB 6'1 180 4.50 Culver City California

Banks emerged as one of the nation’s top QB prospects after putting up monster numbers as a junior………….Earned First Team Junior All-State honors after completing 253 of 379 passes (66.8%) for 4,155 yards, 51 TDs and 11 INTs. He also carried the ball 45 times for 169 yards (3.76 average) and 3 TDs.……..As a sophomore, he completed 150 of 258 passes (58.1%) for 2,211 yards, 26 TDs and 4 INTs. He carried the ball 68 times for 228 yards (3.35 ypc) and 2 TDs……Looked solid at the 2007 U.S. Army Combine, throwing the ball well but measuring in a touch on the short side………On film, he looks very comfortable in running a spread offense and really does a nice job of spreading the ball around to his receivers. As a sophomore, he tended to move outside the pocket more often but as a junior he was more effective in staying in the pocket. He shows fine leadership skills and gets excellent spin and velocity on his throws….His coach says that he’s a better prospect than another star QB he coached a few years ago, former Florida State QB Chris Rix.

Seth Doege QB 6'2 200 4.60 Wolfforth Frenship Texas Texas Tech

Doege is among the nation’s top QB prospects and among the top overall prospects in Texas……As a mere sophomore, he earned AP First Team Class 2A All-State honors after completing 115 of 171 passes (67%) for 2,439 yards and 27 TDs and just 4 INTs and rushed for 526 yards and 3 TDs on 78 carries……….He injured his knee during the 2006 pre-season and missed his entire junior season…….Looked very impressive at the 2006 Texas Tech mini-camp…….Has excellent arm strength, accuracy and a very quick release. He has excellent skills and mechanics. Is really able to spread the ball around. Also a threat running the ball………He committed to Texas Tech in September 2006 and is an ideal fit for Mike Leach’s offense.

Conner Kempe QB 6'4 215 4.90 North Palm Beach Benjamin Florida

Kempe is considered to be one of the top QBs in the South but he will have to recover from a serious kite-surfing accident that he suffered in November 2006. He is recovering from serious head and facial injuries and a collapsed lung (so serious that he was even read his last rites by a priest)……..As a junior he passed for 1,920 yards and 13 TDs…….A hard-nosed athlete who played as a sophomore with a separated shoulder but still managed to throw for 1,653 yards and 17 TDs while completing 103 of 224 passes. He earned Second Team All-Palm Beach County honors for small schools……….A very accurate passer who can spread the ball around and gets fine zip on his throws……..Has a nice frame and is working to improve his footwork……3.3 GPA…..Won the accuracy award as a sophomore at the Miamio Elite 11 camp…..By the end of 2006 he had received offers from Virginia and Stanford.

Randall Mackey QB/ATH 5'11 190 Bastrop Louisiana

Mackey is one of the top QBs in the South……He was named First Team Class 4A All-State and to the Orlando Sentinel All-Southern team as both a sophomore and junior. As a freshman and eighth-grader he was named First Team Class 1A All-State while playing for Port Sulphur…..…….As a junior he passed for 2,066 yards and 27 TDs despite sitting out the first two regular season games…….As a sophomore he completed 111 of 198 passes for over 1,961 yards, 26 TDs and only 8 INTs despite not starting until week 8. He led his team to the state title and was named the game’s MVP, although the title was later forfeited due to irregularities over his transfer to Bastrop…….Lacks ideal height for a QB, but compensates with a strong arm, elusiveness and outstanding athleticism…….Compared by some to Chris Leak……Very effective in spreading the ball around…….A cannon for an arm. He can really throw the deep ball…..Athletic and speedy enough to play other skill positions in college, but with his arm he should be a QB…….Academics are a concern…..Transferred after Hurricane Katrina to Bastrop from Class A power Port Sulphur, where he was already starting in the eighth-grade……His coach claims he already had some undisclosed Division I scholarship offers in 2006.

Kyle Parker QB 6'0 190 4.55 Jacksonville Bartram Trail Florida

Parker is one of the top QB prospects in Florida…….As a junior he was named Third Team Class 5A All-State after completing 126 of 224 passes for 1,786 yards, 12 TDs and 12 INTs. He also rushed for 679 yards and 11 scores…….As a sophomore he started the final five games of the season and passed for 804 yards, rushed for 382 yards and had 115 yards receiving, accounting for a total of 13 TDs……A dual-threat QB who has a very strong arm, solid athleticism and runs very well…….Impressed at the 2006 Florida State summer camp (ran a 4.55 forty)……Has a knack for making the big play and improvising out of trouble…….Also a college baseball prospect…..His father is former Vanderbilt and NFL receiver Carl Parker……As of mid-January he had offers from Clemson and Nebraska.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

2007 University of Michigan Signees: Ceilings and Floors

The 2007 Michigan recruiting class isn’t ranked as highly as previous classes by the so-called recruiting gurus, but there actually are some things I really like about this class, and one in particular that stands out.

First, some background.

The recruiting rating universe is “star-centric” and a prospect is typecast as either a 5-star, 4-star, 3-star, etc. In my opinion, assessing a prospect is a lot more complicated than that and what I have tried to do is come up with a different paradigm in identifying the potential of a prospect.

When I look at players I try to determinewhat sort of ceilings and floors they have. By that I mean what is their upside and what is their downside. Nothing novel in that concept, as players are often referred to as being high ceiling types.

What I will attempt to do below, however, is broaden the context of the term from that of being a mere adjective to in some way “quantify” the potential upside and downside of a prospect. That will give us a better idea of what sort of athleticism we are bringing into this class and also give a sense as to what extent Michigan is making “bets” on high ceiling/low floor types as opposed to taking the safe road and putting more of a premium on High Floor prospects.

A lot of D-1 prospects have high floors but just average to slightly above average ceilings (when speaking in D-I BCS terms). In a sense, what you see is what you get. There will be an average amount of improvement in college but they are often already pretty sound fundamentally and will be solid to very, very good college players (and in some cases exceptional college players but not NFL types).

What is meant by a "high ceiling" is a prospect who has the speed and athleticism that may enable him to play at the NFL level if he puts everything else together (hard work, fundamentals, discipline, developing-if they can be developed-football instincts/understanding as to how to play the game). Usually the term is used on its own without also adding that the prospect has a "low floor" (i.e. a raw football player who may never contribute). Of course, prospects who have both high ceilings and high floors are called difference-makers (instead of being referredto a high ceiling kids) and are usually only the top 25-40 prospects in the nation (i.e. 5 stars).

After you get below the 5 stars, you have the 4 and 3 stars who have some combination of ceiling and floor which is below high/high. A lot of these kids could be average ceiling/high floor, which means that it is pretty sure that they will be very good college football players but they probably lack the great athleticism tobecome NFL-type difference-makers. Others will be high ceiling types with lower floors. These high ceiling types may have as much upside as the five stars but they have more downside (i.e. they are higher risk recruits)

Michigan usually doesn’t recruit a low floor prospect unless he has a high ceiling. The low floor may be due to several factors: 1) Very raw athlete (Mike Kenn); 2) Little playing time in high school, didn’t get many touches (Desmod Howard), a chance to showcase his skills (Elvis Grbac running the wishbone) and/or developed late (Braylon Edwards); 3) Character/Academic issues. In other words, taking one of these kids is a bit of a crapshot that could pay huge dividends or just as easily not work out at all. I still rmember the class where we brought in a lot of these high floor/low ceiling types (the Demetrius Smith, William Peterson, Jason Brooks class). That year most of them didn’t work out. On the other hand, players such as Braylon Edwards and Desmond Howard did work out.

Historically (until just the past 4-5 years), most (not all) of Michigan's defensive line and linebacker recruits had not been high ceiling types but rather high floor types who were athletic enough to get the job done when playing within the Michigan team system.

I think that a few years ago when the lack of speed on our defense was exposed by Tennessee and others Michigan started to move in a new direction and recruit high ceiling prospects at these positions as well. They recognized that teams were spreading things out quite a bit on offense and it was necessary to have more athletic and speedy players on defense as opposed to the more traditional hard-nosed and solid defenders that were effective for us from the 70s to mid-90s. As a result, we had an athletic defense in 2006 with the sort of skills and athleticism that one would usually associate with Miami and Florida State a fewyears back.

Here are some examples of how I would have rated some recent Michigan players when they were being recruited:

Erick Anderson Slightly above average ceiling/High floor

Mike Mallory Slightly above average ceiling/High floor

Jarrett Irons Slightly above average ceiling/High floor

Mike Boren Average ceiling/High floor

Glen Steele Slightly above average ceiling/High floor

MikeHammerstein Slightly above average ceiling/High floor

Larry Foote High ceiling/Low floor

Braylon Edwards High ceiling/Low floor

Charles Woodson High ceiling/High floor

Demetrius Smith High ceiling/Low floor

Jason Brooks High ceiling/Low floor

LaMarr Woodley High ceiling/High floor

Mike Hart Above average ceiling/High floor

DesmondHoward High ceiling/Low floor

This years class, although lacking in five and four stars, has more than its fair share of High ceiling/Low floor types. THAT is what I REALLY like about this class. Some of these kids will not pan out, but others will emerge as NFL type talents.

Just to give an example, a LB like Brandon Herron has the sort of high ceiling to be an Ian Gold type linebacker in the NFL. I would not say that about a prospect such as Chris Colasanti (a 4-star Michigander who signed with Penn State), who should have an outstanding college career but is more in the mold of some of thelinebackers that I listed above.

For you old-timers, an example of a program that had problems by recruiting High Floor types is Notre Dame back in the 1980s under Gerry Faust. He would go through the old Parade All-American listings and bring in loads of these prep stars who were great high school players but lacked high ceilings. Often they would be prospects who had the benefit of playing for top Catholic Schools such as Cincinnati Moeller and they were much more developed as players when arriving at Notre Dame. The problem was that many of these kids weren’t even great athletes and some (remember the undersized prep AA LB Tom Roggeman out of Arizona) didn’t even have high floors. But they were all paper all-americans.

With Michigan having 85 players on scholarship, my view is that it needs to continue to focus on the High Ceiling types at the expense of the High Floors. That is especially the case if it can’t bring in enough five-star talent because it will need to take chances with great athletes in order to compete with the USCs and Floridas of the world. Of course, the ideal High Ceiling prospect is one such as Herron who does not have character issues but is quite raw as a player. Let me make one thing clear, I am NOT advocating going the Michigan State route in taking questionable character prospects over the years. Michigan is in a position where, even though it may lose out on five stars to USC and Florida, it can still pick and choose among many lower-rated prospects with High Ceilings. That is exactly what the coaching staff did such a fine job of doing this year.

Here’s my breakdown of this year’s signees:

Ryan Mallett High Ceiling/High Floor – Entire package

Donovan Warren High Ceiling/High Floor – Great athlete from nations top program. Gone against AA WRsin practice for4 years

Martell Webb High Ceiling/Slightly BelowAverage Floor – Has the frame, speed and athleticism to dominate. Just need sto fill out and learn the game more. A bit raw.

Kenneth "Junior" Hemingway High to Above Average Ceiling/Average Floor - Great receiver skills

Michael Williams Above Average Ceiling/High Floor - Lacks athleticism and speed of Warren but is well-schooled and also from a top program

Ryan VanBergen Above Average Ceiling/High Floor – Motor always on go makes him a low rick kid

Dave Molk Above Average Ceiling/High Floor – Another low risk get, but upside limited by height

Toney Clemons High Ceiling/Low Floor- Has all the tools but senior season he wasn’t thrown to much and there were some other issues

Renaldo Sagesse High Ceiling/LowFloor – Great combo of size and speed,same as Alain Kashama. Most Canadians are low floor due to levelof competition

Austin Panter Above Average Ceiling/Low Floor – Nice size and athleticism but questions whether he can do it at a high level

Steve Watson Above Average Ceiling/High Floor – Well-schooled as he plays for a top program as pops was in the NFL

Zion Babb High Ceiling/Low Floor – Ditto Clemons

Avery Horn Above Averge Ceiling/Average Floor – Should be a solid contributor

James Rogers High Ceiling/Low Floor – Big and fast but will play a new position and his prep competition was poor

Mark Huyge Above Average Ceiling/Low Floor – I have a feeling he will be either a hit or miss. Reminds mea bit of Adam Kraus

Vincent Helmuth Above Average Ceiling/High Floor – Already physically developed and with th skills we are lookingfor at FB

Marell Evans Above Average Ceiling/Low Floor – Late-bloomer could surprise

Brandon Herron High Ceiling/Low Floor – Tests off the charts. Just needs to be more Tarzan and less Jane on the field

Troy Woolfolk Above Average Ceiling/Low Floor – Raw but upside high as he is getting bigger and you can’t teach his speed

Artis Chambers Above Average Ceiling/Average Floor – Very good skill set and fills a need

Class of 2008: Some Elite Defensive Linemen (Part III)

DeAngelo Tyson DL 6'2 276 5.10 Statesboro Georgia

Tyson is one of the top defensive line prospects in the South and overall prospects in Georgia……He was a sophomore starter fopr a state championship team that has sent several players on to D-I ball in recent years (Class of 2007 stars John Knox and Justin Houston signed with Georgia)…….He is a prototypical DT/NG prospect, possessing great strength, a quick first step and an understanding of playing with leverage……Sophomore combine figures include a 5.1 forty, 4.88 shuttle, 22 bench reps and 27-inch vertical…..Impressive at the 2006 Athens Nike camp……By the end of 2006 he had offers from the likes of Auburn Georgia, Tennessee, Georgia Tech and South Carolina.

Tony Gillespie DL/RB/TE 6'2 295 4.90 Jenks Oklahoma

Gillespie is one of the top overall prospects in Oklahoma and among the nation’s best DL prospects…….Gillespie plays for arguably the most powerful program in Oklahoma in recent history……As a junior he was named First Team All-State by the Daily Oklahoman from his DT spot after registering 83 tackles, 8 sacks and 3 fumble recoveries…….Was already dominant as a sophomore…...Very strong (benches 365 pounds)…..Also played fullback as a sophomore…….Very quick for his size, running a sub-5.0 forty…….Some have compared his physique and style of play to Warren Sapp……By late in his sophomore year he was being heavily recruited by numerous Big Twelve schools.

Wes Horton DL/TE 6'6 230 4.80 Sherman Oaks Notre Dame California

One of the top defensive linemen in the nation and among the best prospects in California…….Horton plays for a talent-laden Notre Dame squad and is already drawing comparisons to former Notre Dame and Florida State standout Travis Johnson as a DE prospect………..Named First Team All-Area by the Los Angeles Daily News as a junior after tallying 13 sacks…….Has a great frame with a lot of room to fill out…..Tremendous pass rusher who will need to get stronger to become more effective against the run……Older brother Shane (RB/DB) is a heavily recruited Class of 2007 prospect at Notre Dame and his father, Myke, played at UCLA……Has a high ceiling and his best football is ahead of him.

Cornelius Washington DL/LB 6'4 220 4.51 Waynesboro Burke County Georgia Georgia

Washington is an athletic DE/OLB with the quickness to play standing up and the toughness and size to play down…….3.0 GPA………Missed much of his junior season after breaking two bones in his left forearm in the preseason. He was projected to start at OLB and TE…….Exceptionally fast for a lineman. The 220-pounder ran the 100 meter-dash in 10.72 seconds to win the Region 3-AAA championship as a sophomore……..Should really be a terror once he fills out……He committed to Georgia in July of 2006 after putting on an impressive display at the Georgia summer camp (ran a 4.51 forty).

Myles Walker DL/OL 6'8 242 4.90 San Antonio Antonian Prep Texas

Walker is a tall and rangy DE prospect who plays for a small TAPPS school in Texas but who has already made a name for himself with local colleges as being among the top linemen in the state…………First Team San Antonio Express All-Sub 5A Area as a junior after earning Second Team honors his sophomore year….. As a junior he tallied 61 tackles, 1 sack, 3 TFL, and 2 fumble recoveries………..Looked very good competing at the 2007 U.S. Army Combine in his hometown, earning Second Team All-Combine honors………Is very quick off the edge, with his great frame is an imposing presence and has a great work ethic…….Once he fills out he could be really special……Very high ceiling…….As of early January he had offers from Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Rice.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Class of 2008: Some Elite Linebackers (Part III)

Jon Major LB 6'4 215 4.50 Parker Ponderosa Colorado

Major is among the top LB prospects in the nation and some have him rated as the top overall prospect in Colorado…….As a junior, he earned Second Team Class 5A All-State honors from the Rocky Mountain News and Honorable Mention from the Denver Post despite playing in just 7 games due to a sprained ankle. In those games he tallied 107 tackles, 15 TFL, 3 forced fumbles and 1 INT………As a sophomore, he earned All-Conference honors after registering 108 tackles, 5 TFL, 3 fumble recoveries and 1 INT….…..With his great frame and speed he probably projects as an outside linebacker even though he stood out at MLB as a junior…..Really packs a punch when he meets the defender, showing fine speed and a knack for finding the ball beforehand. Does a great job in attacking the line and an even better job in pursuing from sideline-to-sideline…….Impressive on the 2006 combine circuit (great 4.58 forty and 4.1 shuttle)……..34-inch vertical, 290 bench, 425 squat, 300 power clean…..3.7 core GPA and 28 pre-ACT…….Nice bloodlines as his father, Ken, was an All-American TE at Rice and played some in the NFL. He is currently an assistant at Ponderosa…..As of early February he had received offers from Stanford, Northwestern, Michigan, Tulsa, Colorado, Washington, Illinois, Wisconsin, Washington State, Colorado State, Oklahoma and Utah.

Duane Maddox LB 6'0 222 4.60 Shelby Crest North Carolina

Maddox has emerged as one of the top overall prospects in North Carolina and one of the nation’s better linebackers……….From the same program that sent prep AA LB Brandon Spikes to Florida last year…….On film , he shows great aggressiveness and really lays the wood on defenders. He’s very effective in lateral pursuit, gets over trash and can move from sideline-to-sideline. Does a nice job of warding off blockers and filling the hole…….By the end of 2006 he had offers from Florida, North Carolina and N.C. State.

Eric LeGrand LB/RB 6'3 230 4.65 Colonia New Jersey

LeGrand is one of the top prospects in New Jersey and among the better linebackers in the nation……Named Third Team All-State by the Newark Star Ledger and AP as a junior……As a junior he recorded 150 tackles and rushed for 807 yards playing fullback...........As a sophomore he tallied 109 tackles and 4 sacks while rushing for 1,084 yards on 180 carries after moving from FB to TB………….Brought up to the varsity for the teams final three regular season games as a freshman and recorded 45 tackles……He first made a name for himself with outstanding combine performances as a freshman…..Remarkable strength, benching 430 pounds, squatting 700 pounds and power cleaning 405 pounds…….A ferocious head-hunter from his MLB position, combining exceptional power with fine athleticism and speed. Is very physical and does a great job of filling the hole and dragging down ball carriers………Solid student…….Team leader. Was elected a team captain as a junior………Rutgers was the first school to offer.

Sean Spence LB/DB 6'1 195 Miami Northwestern Florida

Spence is one of the nation’s top linebackers……He is part of the most talented group of juniors in the nation at Miami Northwestern High. He helped lead his team to the state Class 6A title and an unbeaten record in 2006 and earned First Team Class 6A All-State honors and was also selected by the Miami Herald as First Team All-Dade County…………As a junior he registered 160 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 INTs and a fumble recovery……..As a sophomore he was a Second Team Class 6A All-State selection and First Team All-Dade County. He had 96 tackles to lead the team …….Very quick (4.37 combine shuttle as a soph) and athletic (33-inch vertical), but he will need to get bigger and stronger (225 bench, 380 squat) to play linebacker in college. He could also project as a strong safety due to his outstanding quickness, instincts and hitting ability…….Really flows to the ball, combing the field from all sides and showing tremendous pursuit skills…….Won the linebacker award at the 2006 Miami summer camp and was also very impressive at the Rutgers camp……..Rutgers was the first school to offer.

Vincent Williams LB/TE 6'0 206 4.79 Davenport Ridge Florida

Williams is one of the top prospects in Florida and among the best linebackers in the nation……….Two-way prep star at LB and FB but will be a LB in college…….As a junior he was named Third Team Class 3A All-State and the Winter Haven News Defensive Player of the Year after recording 121 tackles, 22 TFL, 9 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, and carrying the ball 72 times for 605 yards and 4 TDs………….As a sophomore he registered 78 tackles, 26 TFL, and 16 sacks in earning All-County honors………Very impressive on the combine circuit (4.77 forty, 4.31 shuttle, 34-inch vertical, 26 bench reps)…….Really passes the look test with his well-chiseled frame…….Has outstanding athletic ability………Also very impressive at the 2006 Florida State summer camp…….On film, he’s very explosive off the ball and is especially effective in filling the hole and getting into the offensive backfield. Not the largest linebacker but has excellent strength for his size (320 bench, great 545 squat) and is very physical in taking on blockers and wrapping up ball carriers……….In early January Florida was the first school to offer him.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Class of 2008: Some Elite Running Backs (Part III)

Josh Haden RB/DB/LB 5'8 190 4.38 Fort Washington Friendly Maryland

Probably the top RB in Maryland and among the better RBs in the nation……..Haden is a versatile, powerful and very athletic football player who could play either RB or DB in college………..The younger brother of Florida signee Joe Haden…….The most impressive combine tester in the Class of 2008, putting up monster numbers as a sophomore (45 bench reps, 37-inch vertical, 4.10 shuttle, 4.38 forty)…….Remarkable strength for his size (Benches over 400 pounds). His father, Joe Sr., is a former bodybuilder who trains both Joe Jr. and Josh……His tam was loaded with D-1 skill talent so he didn’t get the touches to put up huge numbers as a junior…….As of late 2006 he had offers from Illinois, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Illinois, Tennesse, Maryland and Boston College.

Alonzo Landry RB 5'11 220 4.50 Lafayette Carencro Louisiana

Landry is one of the top backs in the South and among the best prospects in Louisiana…….He enjoyed an outstanding junior season, rushing for 1,937 yards and 28 TDs in just 12 games in earning First Team Class 5A All-State honors. He also had 621 yards a 3 TDs receiving..…..As a sophomore he ran for over 1,300 yards and 15 scores……Combines nice size with speed, quickness, balance, power (290 bench, 435 squat, 275 clean), some wiggle and a very physical style of running. Is very patient runner when running zone schemes. Truly exceptional hands for a RB……..36-inch vertical…..Runs track…..Mentioned in the same breath as Kevin Faulk, Damien James and Cecil Collins by his coaches, who also coached the aforementioned……Was very impressive at the 2006 LSU summer camp…..Mississippi was the first school to come forward with an offer.

Rashad White RB 5'11 180 4.38 Teaneck New Jersey

White is the top RB in New Jersey and among the better backs in the nation.........As a junior he was named First Team All-State by the Newark Star Ledger and AP among many of his honors after carrying the ball 214 times for 2,386 yards and 26 TDs…….As a sophomore he was named Third Team All-North Jersey and Second Team Bergen County after rushing for 1,177 yards and 11 TDs on 159 carries……….Very impressive on film. A real game-breaker with sub-4.4 forty speed and tremendous acceleration. Runs with surprising power for his size and has nice hips and shiftiness. Effective both running outside and inside, showing great vision and surprising toughness………Looked good at the 2007 U.S. Army Combine, running a 4.38 forty…..Ran a 10.9 100-meters and 21.7 200-meters as a sophomore……By early January he had offers from Rutgers, Michigan State, Cincinnati, Boston College, Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

Ryan Bass RB 5'10 186 4.61 Corona Centennial California

Bass is one of the top running backs in California…..As a junior he was named First Team All-Underclass All-State after earning Sophomore All-State honors in 2005. He was also named First Team All-CIF-Southern Section-Inland Division…….As a junior he rushed for 2,387 yards and 36 TDs…….As a sophomore he rushed for 2,137 yards and 34 TDs on 255 carries…….Has that extra gear or two, runs with great patience and has outstanding vision. Runs with power and is a north-south type of back who gets to the hole quickly. Has a nice build and really punishes defenders…..Combine marks of 4.61 forty, 4.25 shuttle, 21 bench reps, 34-inch vertical....Older brother Ray is a safety at San Diego State…….Has family in Louisiana and Arkansas……San Diego State was the first college to offer, followed by Colorado Statre and Louisville, and as of January he is hearing from many of the nation’s top programs.

Tre' Newton RB 6'0 194 4.60 Southlake Carroll Texas

Newton is one of the nation’s top RB prospects and among the top overall prospects in Texas………As a junior, he earned First Team All-District 5A honors after carrying the ball 274 times for 2010 yards and 20 TDs for the 5A state champions…………Was the District Offensive Sophomore of the Year in 2005 after leading his state championship team in rushing with 171 carries for 1,345 yards and 17 TDs. Also had 19 receptions for 296 yards and 2 TDs……….Great bloodlines, as he is the son of former Dallas Cowboy Nate Newton…..Very well put together and fast, he can really turn the corner and is smooth and shifty lugging the ball…..Will have his choice of schools.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Class of 2008: Some Elite Defensive Backs (Part III)

Victor Johnson DB/WR 6'1 174 4.55 Waco Texas

One of the best safety prospects in the nation……As a junior, he helped lead his team to the Class 4A Division II state championship game, registering 100 tackles, 5 INTs, 8 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries in earning First Team All-District honors……As a sophomore, he led Waco with 126 tackles (54 solo) and also tallied 1 INT in earning All-District honors……..Could play either safety position in college….....A hard hitter with a real nose for the ball……..Runs the sprints in track……Was already testing well at combines as a freshman: 4.77 forty, 4.47 shuttle, 31-inch vertical. As a sophomore he improved to: 4.61 forty, 4.16 shuttle, 33-inch vertical and 6 bench reps…..Baylor and Texas Tech were the first two schools to offer.

Janoris Jenkins DB/RB 5'11 167 4.69 Pahokee Florida

Jenkins is part of a very deep pool of talented DBs in the Sunshine State’s Class of 2008 and among the nation’s best…..One of the top overall prospects in Palm Beach County………As a junior, he earned First Team Class 2B All-State honors and was named First Team All-Palm Beach County as both a junior and sophomore………Led his team to the 2B state title as a junior……A two-way star at RB and CB…..As a junior, he rushed for 1,151 yards and 14 TDs…..As a sophomore, he rushed for 800 yards and 12 TDs on 104 carries and tallied 7 INTs……Projects as a CB in college due to his outstanding coverage skills. Has a great nose for the ball, is physical and has very good quickness…..…..Very impressive on the 2006 combine circuit (4.69 forty, 4.44 shuttle, 3-inch vertical, just 3 bench reps so he needs to get stronger)…..By mid-January 2007 he had early offers from Miami, Tennessee, Florida State and Clemson.

Brandon Harris DB/WR 5'11 182 4.62 Miami Booker T. Washington Florida

Another national-caliber DB out of Florida’s Class of 2008…..Harris is one of several talented Class of 2008 prospects at Booker T. Washington……….Son of Washington coach Tim "Ice" Harris………As a junior, he earned First Team Class 4A All-State and First Team All-Dade County honors from the Miami Herald after tallying 7 INTs, 2 defensive TDs, 3 sacks, and 21 solo tackles. He also had over 500 yards receiving and 7 TDs……A talented prep CB and WR who projects at CB in college….Has gotten a lot bigger since his sophomore season…….Excellent coverage skills and a real leader on the field. Has improved his tackling…….A Third Team All-Dade selection as a sophomore……Very impressive at the 2006 Miami summer camp, walking away with Defensive MVP honors after wowing onlookers with his coverage and playmaking skills…..A fine student (3.6 GPA) who ranks in the top 10% of his class and takes AP courses………By the end of 2006 he already had offers from Miami, Florida State, Rutgers, Maryland, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Daniel McCarthy DB 6'2 190 4.50 Youngstown Cardinal Mooney Ohio

Daniel is one of the nation’s top safety prospects and among the best overall prospects in Ohio (the second in his class to land an offer from Ohio State)…….A First Team Division IV All-State QB as a junior and also started at safety. Rushed for over 1,000 yards and pass3ed for over 800 yards in his first year at QB ………Recorded over 70 tackles and had 3 sacks as a sophomore safety……Being recruited by the major powers as a safety, where he is a real playmaker……One of three big-time juniors at Cardinal Mooney……Has ideal size for a safety and a real nose for the ball and making plays……A fine athlete who has started on the basketball team since his freshman year and also runs track…..280 bench, 435 squat…..Impressive at the 2006 Notre Dame and Penn State summer camps…..Fine 3.8 GPA….Older brother Kyle is a walk-on at Notre Dame…..Ohio State was the first school to offer.

Karnell Hatcher DB 6'1 180 4.79 Delray Beach Atlantic Florida

Hatcher is yet another talented national-caliber DB prospect out of Florida………As a junior, he was named Third Team Class 5A All-State and First Team All-Palm Beach County after registering 65 tackles, 1 INT, 2 fumble recoveries and a blocked field goal……As a sophomore, he also earned First Team All-Palm Beach County honors in addition to Third Team Class 5A All-State mention after tallying 65 tackles, 7 INTs and 6 fumble recoveries……A bone-crushing tackler who projects as a safety in college….As a sophomore making the combine rounds he recorded a 4.79 forty, 4.53 shuttle, 27-inch vertical and 8 bench reps……2.8 core GPA.......Plays basketball and was All-District in track as a sophomore.....One of the best safety prospects in the country.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Some Thoughts on the Class of 2007

USC will not win the mythical national recruiting title for the first time in four years, but that doesn’t mean that they are lacking in talent. The incoming talent is as strong as ever, it’s just that the numbers are smaller. Only 14 verbals to-date, with super DB/WR Ron Johnson committing today in a slight trade-up for USC vis-a-vis Michigan after they lost Donovan Warren. Interestingly, for a school that has recruited so well nationally in recent years Johnson is only the second verbal in the class not from California or Arizona. The other, Broderick Green, is a standout RB out of Arkansas who may possibly de-commit to Penn State in the next few days. With Johnson on board, the Trojans now have five elite verbals as he joins Everson Griffin, Kris O’Dowd, Marc Tyler and Marshall Jones as national top 30 types.

Florida is the my current choice as the top recruiting class for 2007 (with only LSU having a chance to catch-up). Urban Meyer is building a USC-type of talent-base at Florida as he takes advantage of the national title and Miami and Florida State both being down. With the exception of Jamar Taylor he recruited all of the D-I prospects out of national power Lakeland. He also recruited a defensive line for he ages, with Torrey Davis, Carlos Dunlap and John Brown leading the way. His fourth most highly-rated DL, Justin Trattou, was Notre Dame’s top DL recruit before de-committing to the Gators. He’s one of the top three prospects in New Jersey. Meyer also impressed in being able to leave the South to recruit blue-chippers out of New Jersey, California, Maryland and Connecticut.. He also turned a real magic trick in landing two blue-chip QBs in Cameron Newton and John Brantley a year after landing Tim Tebow. Amazing.

North Carolina picked up an outstanding WR on Sunday in Rashad Mason out of Tennessee. This could also put them in the driver’s seat for his talented younger brother DeAunte Mason, a 6-3, 195 WR who willl be one of the South’s best next year.

Michigan had a bizarre recruiting class. In failing to land Ron Johnson today they completed an atrocious in-state recruiting effort in a year when the state was more loaded than ever. Moreover, they did not recruit well in the rest of the midwest, landing only two players (Artis Chambers, Dave Molk) from the other Midwestern states and being shut out in Ohio. They also failed to leverage off of their fine season as they only picked up three verbals in 2007 (Michael Williams, Renaldo Sagesse and Donovan Warren) while losing two verbals (Jerimy Finch and Marques Maze) and not closing on a handful of talented prospects (Ron Johnson and Rashad Mason come to mind). The Class of 2008 will be a critical class for the Wolverine coaching staff as they will need to bring in some defensive difference-makers and offensive linemen. They got off to a good start this week with the state’s top-rated junior, Boubacar Cissiko, committing to them. This mitigates the sour aftertaste of a poor 2007 recruiting effort to some extent, as do the recruiting successes the Wolverines enjoyed in California and Texas.

Amazingly, Michigan’s class ranks right up there with Ohio State and Illinois at or near the top of the Big Ten. It is a poor year for recruiting in the Big Ten. Ohio State is bringing in a smallish class (just 15 verbals to date) that is high in blue-chip quality but includes probably only one difference-maker caliber recruit (Eugene Clifford and possibly Brandon Saine). Illinois has enjoyed an outstanding recruiting season and their top three or four verbals (Benn, Wilson, Brent, McCray) are as good as anybody’s in the Big Ten. Where they lag, as compared to Michigan and Ohio State, is in the quality of the second 50% of their class.

Some Comparisons of College Coaches to Historical Figures (Part I):

Urban Meyer: Lorenzo de Medici. Meyer has really taken recruiting up another notch at Florida the past couple of years. In 2006 he was a new hire and “flavor of the month”. This year he won a national title and also had USC or Texas-type of pickings over in-state talent as both Miami and Florida State were down. There has been an “Urban Renaissance” at Florida, so it is only appropriate that he be compared to Lorenzo de Medici. Like Lorenzo “The Magnificent”, not only is Meyer a wily diplomat and politician, but he has brought in a brilliant group of talent (football players as compared to Lorenzo’s scholars, artists, and poets) and is also accomplished in the manly arts of jousting and the hunt. They both are tough, passionate, and energetic, equally devoted to team/city and the pursuit of success. Lorenzo was the Prince of Florence during the height of the Renaissance while Urban presides over the Renaissance of Florida.

Charlie Weis: Henry VIII. Henry VIII proved by nearly all accounts to be a popular and energetic monarch at the outset of his reign, much like Charlie Weis his first year at Notre Dame. Things turned sour soon afterwards for Henry, just as they did for Charlie in his second season. Henry VIII is famous for having been married six times, and ultimately breaking with the Roman Catholic Church. He wielded perhaps the most untrammeled power of any English monarch. and he became the supreme head of the Church in England. Like Henry, Charlie has wielded substantial power vis-à-vis the Roman Catholic Church in getting Notre Dame to ease their admission standards to attract high quality prospects. Henry VIII is known to have been an avid gambler and dice player. Charlie did some gambling of his own during the 2006 season, and it didn’t always pay off. Henry was also an accomplished musician, author, and poet; his best known piece of music is Pastyme. Charlie was a genius, scoring a reported perfect 1600 on the SAT and leading the New England offense to a couple of Super Bowl titles. Finally, they have a common ground when it comes to their girth.

Class of 2008: Some Elite Wide Receivers (Part III)

DeAndre Brown WR 6'6 215 4.62 Ocean Springs Mississippi

Brown is the top WR in Mississippi and among the nations very best. He challenges Darius Barksdale for honors as the top overall prospect in the state……..As a junior he was named Second Team All-State by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger after catching 21 passes for 348 yards and 5 TDs. He also rushed for 4 TDs and returned 2 kicks for TDs…….He did not have a very good passing QB throwing him the ball as a junior……..As a sophomore he had 36 catches for 691 yards and 7 TDs…….He has tremendous height and runs a 4.4 forty. He does a good job of going up and catching the ball in traffic (34-inch vertical helps). Has good quickness (4.37 shuttle) and decent strength (15 bench reps as a sophomore).……Very impressive at the 2006 LSU summer camp.…….Also stars in basketball and runs the 200-meters in track…….Very high ceiling…….As of mid-January he had offers from Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Southern Mississippi, South Carolina, Miami, Florida and Florida State.

Chris Tolliver WR 6'1 185 4.30 Rayville Louisiana

Tolliver is considered by most to be the top WR in Louisiana and is among the nation’s best…….As a junior he was named First Team Class 3A All-State after leading he state in receptions with 67 catches for 1,437 yards and 14 TDs……As a sophomore he had 31 receptions for 643 yards and 8 TDs……….Very, very fast, as he ran a 10.5 100-meters as a sophomore. Not just a sprinter, however, as he has pretty good height and a football body….……His school has sent a couple of players to LSU recently……He’s a real game-breaker who is a threat both on the long ball and on shorter passes where he is a threat to run the distance……One of the top overall prospects in Louisiana and as of January being heavily pursued by most of the SEC.

Brandon Green WR/DB 6'1 175 4.50 Chicago Robeson Illinois

Green is an exceptional two-way talent at WR and FS/CB who I really like as a WR in college. He is one of the nation’s top WR prospects…….Enjoyed an outstanding junior season and was named Second Team All-American as a DB by MaxPreps and First Team All-State at DB by the Chicago Tribune. The two-way star recorded 8 INTs, 3 of which were returned for scores, and caught 62 passes for 1,461 yards and 21 TDs.…….As a sophomore he was a First Team All-Public League selection by the Chicago Sun-Times after catching 57 passes for 1,250 yards and 15 TDs………As a freshman, he had 47 receptions for 797 yards and 9 TDs.…….He is an outstanding athlete and will be the top prospect in the Chicago Public League as a senior……He has decent size and speed, but it’s his athleticism and ball skills that really stand out……His coach claims that he is the best player h has coached in 17 years…….Solid student…..As of late January he had received offers from Illinois, Northwestern and Iowa.

D.J. Coles WR/RB 6'3 193 4.40 Goochland Virginia

Coles is among the nations top WR prospects even though he stars as a RB and DB in high school…….As a junior he was named AP First Team Class A All-State and First Team All-Metro by the Richmond Times-Dispatch after rushing for 1,352 yards and 22 TDs on just 118 carries. He also had 3 TD catches……..As a sophomore he was named Second Team All-Metro by the Richmond Times-Dispatch after rushing for 22 TDs and averaging over 12 yards per carry………With his frame (could fill out around 220), long arms and great hands he will likely move to WR in college. An explosive athlete who his coach claims is an exceptional blocker. Very physical……Stars in basketball and won the state Class A 100-meters title as a sophomore…….Rushed for over 900 yards as a freshman starter in earning Second Team All-James River District honors……As of mid-January he had received offers from the likes of Virginia, Virginia Tech and Maryland.

Martavious Odoms WR 5'8 175 4.35 Pahokee Florida

Florida always produces outstanding WRs and Odoms is one of the very best in the Class of 2008……As a junior he was a First Team Class 2B All-State selection after leading his team to an unbeaten record and the state title. He was also a consensus All-Palm Beach County pick and was named the Sun-Sentinel’s County Small Schools Player of the Year…….Effective at WR, DB and as a return man……..As a junior he had 46 receptions for 941 yards and 14 TDs despite being constantly double-teamed…….As a sophomore he was named Second Team Class 2B All-State and First Team All-Palm Beach County after leading the County with 68 receptions for 1,156 yards and 16 TDs and helping his team to a state title…..…As a freshman he had over 400 yards receiving and 11 TDs……An explosive and dangerous player who lacks great size but has everything else. He’s quicker than a hiccup (4.12 shuttle as a soph), runs great routes, is strong for his size (14 bench reps as a soph), tough, athletic, goes vertical (34-inch vertical), blocks well and is a very hard worker. A real playmaker……Tennessee, Clemson and South Carolina were the first to offer back in 2006.