May 2008 Archives

Surfing in Hawaii

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I was in Hawaii for five days and interviewed 20 players. I drove around the island of Oahu. Two players flew over from Maui to meet me. Can you believe it? In all the time I was there, the sun never came out. It rained for three days. I got more of a sun tan in New Jersey in April.

Believe me, college coaches who go to Hawaii to sit on the beach and don't bother to evaluate the local talent are making a big mistake.

The most talked about player in 10 years is linebacker Mati Te'o, a 6-2, 225-pounder from Honolulu. He ranks with Jarvis Jones of Columbus, Georgia, as the two best linebackers in the country. Neither is committed. Te'o has been offered by Notre Dame--coach Charlie Weis made a personal visit in January--but he is leaning to USC. He also has been offered by 27 other schools, including Tennessee, LSU and Auburn. Brigham Young also is in the mix.

Te'o is a devout Mormon and plans to go on a two-year mission before enrolling in college. He was an all-stater as a junior. He is a difference-maker, good enough to rank among the top 20 players in the nation. I loved him on film. He dominates games.

Comparing apples and oranges

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Some of the top 100 lists leave something to be desired. Sometimes prospects are rated higher than they should be in order to promote combines and camps. I've always believed that players shyould be ranked on the basis of their performance on the football field rather than at combines.

For example, running back Bryce Brown of Wichita, Kan., who is committed to Miami (Fla.), is rated No. 9 in the country by Rivals, behind Notre Dame-bound Cierre Wood of Oxnard, Calif., who is rated No. 3. But Brown is rated as the No. 2 player in the nation by Scout.

I go with Brown. Both had good junior seasons but Brown played against better competition. Both are outstanding ball-carriers but I favor Brown because he has more speed. I haven't seen a better running back than Brown.

USC recruits the nation's No. 1 class

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Year in and year out, Los Angeles produces the most talented high school football players in the country. And this year is no exception. The area is loaded and USC is dominating the recruiting sweepstakes.

Coach Pete Carroll already has 10 commitments and is well on his way to signing the No. 1 class in the nation. It is headed by quarterback Matt Barkley of Santa Ana, the nation's top-rated player, and a host of gifted wide receivers.

Cultivating the Garden State

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New Jersey is always one of the most underrated states for producing football talent. It is one of the top 10 in the country and Rutgers has recruited its share in recent years--but many top players don't have local allegiance and choose to leave the state.

Every school from USC to Florida recruits in the Garden State. I haven't seen Illinois but virtually everyone else, including Northwestern, is making its presence felt despite the fact that there isn't a single 5-star prospect in the state, not a single top 25 player.

In fact, there is no concensus about the No. 1 player. There are 10 to 12 who are big-time prospects. But who is the best still is to be determined.

Clemson scores a coup

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Craig Loston of Houston, Texas, my early choice as the No. 3 player in the nation and the leading free safety in the country, has committed to Clemson.

That's a shocker, a huge catch for Clemson. It is so unusual for any school to go into the Lone Star State and beat Texas, USC, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Michigan or Florida State for homegrown talent, especially a top 10 prospect.

Scouting New England

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Talent-wise, New England--New York, Massachussets, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and Maine--is the weakest region in the country. It is a highly populated area but there are only suspects, not a lot of blue chippers.

The top three players in the seven-state area are quarterback McCallum Foote of Dedham, Mass., tight end Arthur Fontaine of North Dartmouth, Mass., and wide receiver Josh Adams of Cambridge, Mass., who has transferred to a prep school in Chelsea, Connecticut.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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