Some thoughts while driving through Florida and Georgia and meeting with dozens of blue-chip prospects from the class of 2009:
* The story on the class of 2008 isn't complete until quarterback Terrelle Pryor of Jeannette, Pa., makes his commitment. The top-rated player in the nation is taking his time. He attended a basketball game at Ohio State last weekend. In my view, he will choose Ohio State but he still hasn't made official visits to Penn State and Oregon and won't make a decision until he does.
* Quarterback Matt Barkley of Los Angeles is the No. 1 player in the junior class but Aaron Murray of Tampa, Fla., could rival him.
Barkley, who has committed to USC, is 6-3 or 6-4 while Murray is a 6-1, 195-pounder. But Murray, who will be a mid-year graduate, passed for 4,000 yards and rushed for 1,000 yards last season. He is the Tim Tebow of his class, someone who can run and pass. He has better running skills than Barkley and a more well-rounded quarterback. But he lacks three inches of height.
Murray has 44 scholarship offers, including Illinois, Notre Dame, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio State and Tennessee. In comparing Murray and Barkley, it is like apples and oranges. But I can see Murray doing better in college, depending on where he goes. It's like comparing Tebow and Mitch Mustain in the class of 2005, two great talents.
* Notre Dame offered Glenbard West offensive lineman Chris Watt last weekend. Watt is the only Chicago area product who has been offered by the Irish.
* Northwestern could pull off its greatest recruiting coup in recent history if it lands Watt, Glenbard North quarterback Evan Watkins, Wheaton North running back Mike Trumpy and Providence offensive lineman Pat Ward. All visited the Evanston campus together last weekend.
* Illinois is in on a lot of talented players in Florida. They lost defensive lineman Jacobbi McDaniels of Madison County to Florida State. But they have offered over 20 players, including Murray, defensive end Ryne Giddins and linebacker Petey Smith of Senffner and 6-4, 280-pound defensive tackle Arthur Jeffrey of Sarasota.
* Notre Dame also has a presence in Florida. One of their priorities is linebacker/tight end Rayray Armstrong of Sanford. Armstrong's teammate, defensive end Dyron Dye, also is a big-time prospect.
* There is so much talent in Florida this year. Tallahassee may be the best town in the country. Tampa is loaded, too. Miami isn't as good as it was last year when Northwestern High School produced eight All-Americans.
* How difficult is it for Illinois, Notre Dame, Michigan or anyone else to recruit a player out of Florida and get him away from Florida, Florida State and Miami?
Very difficult. Illinois, Notre Dame and Michigan have done it. But it isn't easy. The key is to go after 10 All-Americans and get one when you are battling the three Florida schools. Do the same in Texas, California and New Jersey and you will sign a top 10 class. But you must have a very aggressive recruiting staff and go after a lot of big-time players.
* The class of 2009 appears to be better than 2008. Why? Because there is more strength at the quarterback and running back positions, which were only average last year.