April 2009 Archives

On the recruiting trail

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I just completed a recruiting trip through New Jersey, western Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh and Illinois seems to be everywhere while Notre Dame seems to be virtually nowhere, which certainly isn't the way it used to be.

First of all, I just met what I think is the No. 1 player in the nation in the class of 2012. Rushel Shell, a 5-11, 213-pound running back from Tony Dorsett's old high school, Hopewell in Aliquippa, Pa., will be a sophomore next fall.

Shell has 4.4 speed and is the best player in Pennsylvania right now. He has size, speed and strength and reminds me of LeShean McCoy, who was a second-round pick in this year's NFL draft. Shell said he grew up as an Ohio State fan. But every major program will offer him before he makes up his mind.

Illini, Irish making offers

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While attending Michigan's spring game a week ago, I learned that several visitors from Michigan and Ohio have been offered scholarships by Illinois coach Ron Zook--and they rate among the leading prospects in the country.

For example, Zook has offered 6-7, 240-pound defensive end/tight end William Gholston of Detroit Southeastern, who ranks as the No. 1 player in Michigan along with quarterback Devin Gardner of Inkster, who already has committed to Michigan. Gholston has been offered by every school in the Big 10.

Zook also has offered 6-5, 195-pound wide receiver Dan Easterly of Detroit, 6-0, 190-pund running back Austin White of Livonia and 5-9, 170-pound cornerback Dior Mathis of Detroit.

Paulus made the wrong decision

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I love it when I'm right. I thought Greg Paulus made the wrong decision at the time. I said so and took a lot of heat, especially from Duke fans. But now, four years later, even Paulus seems to agree with me. He realizes he doesn't have a future in professional basketball so he is trying to restart his career in football. Too bad, too late.

Four years ago, I rated Paulus as the No. 1 quarterback in the nation coming out of high school. To me, it was a no-brainer. I selected him for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl after he passed for 11,763 yards and 152 touchdowns while leading Christian Brothers Academy of Syracuse, N.Y., to a 42-3 record in four years. As a senior, he was named the Gatorade player of the year.

But he chose to play basketball at Duke.

Who are the best recruiters?

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The old school of college football recruiting has graduated. Make way for the new wave of aggressive, persistent recruiters who are changing the face of the profession.

The old school included Tennessee’s Phil Fulmer, Michigan’s Lloyd Carr, Penn State’s Joe Paterno, Texas’ Mack Brown, Florida State’s Bobby Bowden, USC’s Pete Carroll and Ohio State’s Jim Tressel. Carroll was and remains the best in the business. Tressel was and remains the most underrated.

But they are giving way to a new breed of recruiter who is more aggressive and more aware of what recruiting can do for a program. Old-timers all too often were lulled and tricked into thinking their success was all about coaching. They read their own press clippings, believing they would win with coaching. But now if you win big, you have to win big with recruiting, by being persistent for 365 days a year.

The nation's top quarterbacks

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I've seen every one of the nation's leading quarterbacks, in person and on film, and while it is an average to below average year nationally, the best of the big-time prospects figure to make their marks at the Division I level.

Things have changed for quarterbacks. A lot of high schools are taking their cue from colleges and have opted to run spread offenses. In the past, when I evaluated quarterbacks, I looked for prostyle or combo quarterbacks, kids who could run and throw. Dan Marino was prostyle, Michael Vick was combo.

Now I have to evaluate them differently. I have to look for prostyle and spread quarterbacks. This year's class has some standouts but it lacks the talent and depth of 1979 (Marino, John Elway) or 2006 (Matt Stafford, Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Josh Freeman, Mitch Mustain).

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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