Who are the major make-or-break recruits the average fan should care
I’ve never believed in the term make or break when it
comes to recruiting. I use the player I consider the greatest in my
collegiate lifetime as an example, Herschel Walker. Georgia got him,
Clemson didn’t. Georgia won a National Title in 1980. Clemson won it
in 1981. Losing Herschel Walker certainly didn’t break Clemson.
Football is the ultimate team game, and there’s no such thing as a
make or break commitment.
That being said, I also think that running backs are
not only the easiest position to project, they’re also the position
that has the quickest ability to make an impact. If you can find an
extremely talented player and couple that with a thin depth chart,
those are the guys that have the chance to be breakout stars early
in their careers. Little big man Tavon Austin at 5-8 and 175 pounds
could be lighting in a bottle for West Virginia next year. Trent
Richardson, should he end up at Alabama, could see a good bit of
action teamed with Mark Ingram. The nation’s No. 1 quarterback Matt
Barkley has the makings of a first round draft pick one day, but
he’ll still have to wait his turn at USC.
What superstar recruits are expected to shine in 2009?
Playing early is more a function of depth than it is talent, but
it’s nice to fill a need on the depth chart with a talented
prospect. Teams don’t want to have a quarterback starting as a true
freshman, but the player I see as most likely to make a big impact
would probably be Richard Brehaut who’s headed to UCLA. The
quarterback play last year for the Bruins was dreadful, and Brehaut
is a big, strong kid that is physically more advanced than a lot of
Defensive end Donte Moss is a player that could see immediate time
at North Carolina. He’ll be a speed rusher off the edge early in his
career, but as he fills out his frame, he’ll be a three down force
for North Carolina.
Shayne Skov is a five-star middle linebacker that has the physical
tools to play early at Stanford. He’s lived in the weight room, and
doesn’t need to fill out before he’s ready to go. If he can grasp
the schemes at Stanford, he could be an immediate starter.
3. Does a one-year boom really help recruiting in the long run?
This can actually be a double edge sword. The best recruiter in the
world is winning. If a class is strong enough to elevate a team on
the field, then in the long run, winning will help elevate the
recruiting off the field. But on the flip side, teams can sometimes
have trouble recruiting against themselves. Say a team signs a high
profile quarterback; it’s going to be hard to get a quarterback in
the next class as opposing recruiters will be saying “you don’t want
to go there and sit behind… for 4 years.” Should that quarterback
not pan out, a team could set itself back a couple of years at a key
position. So, there’s risk involved when signing a high profile
Teams that get a one year spike in recruiting are typically selling
early playing time, and coaches can only play that card once or
twice before they need to start winning on the field.
4. Is USC still considered the top dog in the recruiting world, at
least on a national scale?
don’t know if they’re considered THE top dog, but I’d definitely
consider them A top dog. With Florida coming off two BCS titles in
three years, I consider the Gators to be the most dangerous team in
recruiting. Both the Trojans and the Gators have the recruiting
ability to go into any state against any team and be a factor for a
recruit. I think USC is finally finding some competition on the west
coast though. USC has actually lost some players in California to
some of its Pac-10 rivals. That hasn’t happened much over the last
Are there any concerns from recruits thinking about Florida about
Urban Meyer leaving within the next four years?
None that I can tell.
How are these key programs in turmoil doing?
Michigan has a solid nucleus of commitments that includes players
that can excel in its spread option system like 5-9/175 pound slot
receiver Jeremy Gallon, as well as players that can excel in any
system like defensive stalwarts William Campbell, J.T. Turner, and
... Notre Dame
Notre Dame’s No. 2 ranked class in 2008 was a remarkable job of
recruiting by Charlie Weis and staff, and it looks like the Irish is
going to bring in another Top 20 haul despite constant rumors and
doubt swirling in South Bend. It might not be as exciting as a
flashy quarterback, but offensive linemen Chris Watt and Alex
Bullard are big time talents on the offensive line. I think Notre
Dame has the talent on the roster to take it to the next level and
win 9+ games next season.
Auburn is turning towards the junior college ranks in hopes of
getting back on track after a disappointing 2008 season. Demond
Washington is a five-star cornerback that may get his first crack at
running back at Auburn, and El Toro Freeman should see the field
early and often at linebacker. Gene Chizik and the new staff already
made a big splash with four-star quarterback Tyrik Rollison, and
have shown that they’re willing to go head to head with any team for
Vols made the most headlines with their coaching change in bringing
in Lane Kiffen and a host of solid recruiters including Ed Orgeron,
former Ole Miss Head Coach, and Eddie Gran, former running backs
coach at Auburn. Kiffen’s first big move was telling five-star
commitment Tajh Boyd “thanks, but no thanks” and Boyd ended up
committing to Clemson. Tennessee is bringing in a solid class, but
with a year under their belts, I expect the Vols to be pushing for
the No. 1 spot in 2010.
Most teams had their classes fairly well filled out before the
football season even started last year. Washington took a different
approach; one commitment before the season. Anything Steve Sarkasian
did on the recruiting front was going to be an improvement, and
Washington is putting together a respectable class all things
considered. A key for the new coach will be keeping an eye on the
nation’s No. 1 quarterback for 2010. Jake Heaps is a local product,
and if Washington is going to be taken seriously in the near future,
can’t lose a player like this from its own back yard.
7. Are good recruits really starting to think more about the non-BCS
stars like Boise State, TCU and Utah?
question might be, does it matter? These teams have proven that they
can take the players that you (BCS Schools) didn’t want, and beat
you with them. But in all honesty, yes, parity is not only going to
the lower level BCS schools, but to the non-BCS schools. These teams
are on TV more than ever, playing in bigger bowls more than ever, so
players are realizing there is a lot of reason to play at some of
these non-traditional powers.
Who are the biggest surprise programs so far this recruiting season?
Who are the bigger disappointments (at least at the moment)?
Stanford and North Carolina are the two teams that stand out the
most to me as recruiting at a higher level than what is expected.
Iowa is the team that strikes me as a former player for more highly
regarded players that doesn’t seem to be involved in any recruiting
battles this year.
9. How much do you, and the Scout analysts, put stock in the
recruiting rankings in regard to teams that recruit to type (West
Virginia, Wisconsin) as opposed to simply getting the top players?
It’s hard to project for different systems. We have to scout guys in
a vacuum, in that we can’t readjust the rankings based on which team
a player picks, but we try and look at all of the options a player
might have and rank him appropriately. That’s why it’s always good
to ask us questions about players, rather than just look blankly at
a star. We’ll be able to give more insight as to how a player might
fit a particular system, when a ranking is just that, a ranking.
Which schools have the best reputation for developing talent as
opposed to, say, USC, which gets the ready-made stars?
think Jim Grobe and Wake Forest do the best job of building football
teams based on their available players and needs. Recruiting
rankings are based on the compilation of individual rankings; the
best team is the one that wins on Saturdays.