December 2009 Archives

Who are the best of the best?

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Most of the top players in the nation are gathering in San Antonio for the annual U.S. Army All-America Bowl. Many of them have made college commitments but a few of the top 10 prospects remain undecided as the February signing date approaches. So who are the players to watch? Who are the best players in the class of 2010?

My top 10 is headed by 6-8, 330-pound offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson of St. Paul, Minn. I first rated Seantrel as the nation's No. 1 player in March of 2008 for Sports Illustrated. Now here it is, almost two years later, and he still ranks as the nation's No. 1 prospect. He has proven to be the best OL prospect to come out of the Midwest since Joe Thomas. He is the most recruited player in the country. He is visiting Iowa, Notre Dame, Minnesota, USC, Florida and Ohio State.

Here's how to get some kicks

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Once in a while I receive an inquiry from a parent or high school coach who wants to know what it takes for a kicker to get a college scholarship. How is recruiting different for a kicker? How does he get exposure? If you're a kicker with potential, how do you get recruited?

It's a logical question. Kickers and punters have become a very important part of the game but they aren't recruited like quarterbacks and running backs. Remember, the greatest punter in football history, Ray Guy, didn't get a college scholarship and isn't in the pro football Hall of Fame.

There aren't many scholarships available for kickers. Of 119 schools in Division I, at the most 40 offer scholarships each year. Half the kickers and punters in Division I are walkons from the soccer team.

If you're a senior, it's too late

| 4 Comments | No TrackBacks

Upon my return from Hawaii, I was greeted with dozens of tapes from seniors who are overlooked and uncommitted and still hoping to earn a college scholarship. Unfortunately, there isn't much I can do at this point. College recruiters are looking for juniors, not seniors. Most colleges have filled their needs as they await the February signing date.

I've been saying this for years but, sadly, the message seems to fall on deaf ears. Parents either aren't listening, aren't taking my advice seriously or are getting bad information from high school coaches or friends or other influence peddlers.

Trust me, this is the way it is:

Florida, SEC get richer

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Look for Ronald Powell of Rancho Verde, Calif., to commit to Florida in the near future. It is a major catch for coach Urban Meyer, who wooed Powell away from USC. Powell, a 6-4, 240-pounder, is the No. 11 player in the nation according to my evaluations and the No. 2 defensive lineman behind Jackson Jeffcoat of Plano, Texas.

So the SEC gets richer and richer. Most recruiting services have six SEC schools rated among the top 10 recruiting classes in the nation. My list? Texas, Florida, Alabama, Penn State, Oklahoma, LSU, USC, Tennessee, Georgia and Auburn.

Rivals, which rates Texas, Alabama and Florida 1-2-3, also lists six SEC schools among its top 10. Scout, which rates Oklahoma, Texas and Alabama 1-2-3, rates five SEC schools. And ESPN, which rates Florida, Texas and Alabama 1-2-3, also rates six.

Hawaii revisited

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

Hawaii is a very underrated state as far as football talent is concerned. And for obvious reasons, mostly economical, it is a very under-recruited state. When I was there on my recent four-day trip to Oahu, about the only major school I saw was Michigan. And that was only because the son of Michigan running backs coach Fred Jackson plays on the island.

But I saw two players who rate among the best I have seen. Both of them are capable of playing in the Big 10. It will be interesting to see if any Midwest schools show any interest in them.

They are quarterback Andrew Manley and safety Jeremy Ioane. Remember those names.

Abbate, Brate deserve props

| 3 Comments | No TrackBacks

While I recover from jet lag, having just returned from my four-day trip to Hawaii, allow me to clear some things off my desk before I recount my experiences in the Aloha State.

Two players who had outstanding senior seasons but continue to slip under the radar of many Division I coaches are defensive end Nick Abbate of Glenbard North and tight end Cameron Brate of Naperville Central. Both compete in the tough DuPage Valley Conference so nobody can complain that they aren't battle hardened.

Abbate, a 6-2, 220-pounder, earned a spot on the Sun-Times' 25-man All-Chicago Area team. He spearheaded a defense that registered six shutouts and keyed Glenbard North's drive to the state semifinals.

What will be Kelly's game plan?

| 2 Comments | No TrackBacks

Brian Kelly wasn't my choice to be Notre Dame's next head football coach, as you know, but it is obvious he was the primary and probably only target that the search committee had in mind from the minute that the decision to oust Charlie Weis was made.

Now where does Kelly go from here? The press conferences are over, the obligatory speeches have been made and the alumni apparently are satisfied...for the time being.

Notre Dame doesn't need a big name as its news head coach. There was so much talk about Urban Meyer and Bob Stoops, a lot of flash. But what Notre Dame needs is a solid coach with a great personality who knows how to bring in two outstanding coordinators and seven great recruiters who also happen to be great coaches and teachers.

Bound for Hawaii

| 2 Comments | No TrackBacks

I leave Thursday for Hawaii, the first scheduled trip on my 2009-10 tour to evaluate the top players in the class of 2011. It's a long trip but somebody has to do it. I won't have much time to enjoy Waikiki, however. I'll be returning to Chicago on Monday.

This is the beginning of the longest series of trips since I began evaluating players in 1979. When my odyssey is over in June, I will have covered 60,000 miles, visited all 50 states and interviewed about 2,000 players, including 750 in San Antonio in January.

I will visit Alaska for the first time. I'll fly to Anchorage from Seattle. I may drive from Anchorage to Fairbanks. There aren't many players in Alaska but there some. In fact, seven years ago, a kid from Alaska contacted the U.S. Army and was invited to play in the All-American Bowl. He played so well that he received a scholarship from Nevada-Las Vegas. No college coach I know of has ever recruited in Alaska.

Kirk Ferentz is my choice

| 9 Comments | No TrackBacks

Everyone is weighing in on who should be Notre Dame's next football coach. Here is hoping that the Irish take their time, do their homework and make the right decision. After making a string of bad choices in recent years, it is important that they get this one right.

Cincinnati's Brian Kelly appears to be the favorite, now that Bob Stoops and Urban Meyer have been ruled out. I've never met him. But he isn't my choice. Why? Kelly isn't a proven recruiter. He has never signed a top prospect. He has developed some good players, to be sure, but he reminds me of former TCU coach Dennis Franchione. After making a reputation at TCU, he proved not to be so good at Alabama and Texas A&M and got fired.

When you get to Notre Dame, it's a different ballgame. You are up against the elite teams when it comes to recruiting...Florida, Texas, Alabama, USC, Ohio State. There is no homegrown talent in Indiana. You have to be a national recruiter.

The demise of Charlie Weis

| 2 Comments | No TrackBacks

Charlie Weis is an outstanding offensive football coach and an outstanding recruiter. His track record proves that. The fact that he already has at least six offers to return to the NFL as an offensive mastermind is proof enough. But he was fired at Notre Dame because he didn't pay enough attention to defense. In the end, the oversight cost him his job.

I would argue that Notre Dame had talent on defense, contrary to what many critics have said. All of this season's losses were by seven points or fewer. But the defense was atrocious, it says here. Weis didn't leave his defense in the right hands.

Former St. Rita star Darius Fleming showed flashes. Ethan Johnson and Ian Williams were widely recruited players. Man'ti Teo was the leading defensive recruit in the nation last year. Remember, Weis stole him from USC. And linebacker Brian Smith received some All-America consideration. And several defensive backs were nationally recruited.

About this Archive

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

November 2009 is the previous archive.

January 2010 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.