January 2010 Archives

Recruiting on television

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The biggest day in "Football's Second Season," college football's annual signing day, is Wednesday and I am busy preparing for my annual appearance on CBS College Sports network's television special. It will be from 10 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 6 p.m. Chicago time.

It is an expansion of my weekly recruiting show with co-host Adam Zucker and former Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer. MaxPreps.com, the leading online high school sports network, will provide information on over 2,000 Division I recruits.

For college football fans, this is New Year's Eve, Mardi Gras and Fourth of July all rolled into one, a celebration of the best high school prospects in the nation finally making a firm commitment to the college of their choice. Who is going where? Which college will sign the best class? Who missed out?

Surfing in Hawaii

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In this business, you never know when you'll come across a player who knocks your socks off, a kid who isn't being recruited by anyone but you absolutely are convinced should be playing in the Big 10. I saw a kid like that recently in Hawaii.

His name is Jeremy Ioane and he hails from the same Honolulu high school that produced President Barack Obama and Mantei Teo, Notre Dame's prize linebacker. He is a 5-11, 185-pounder and without a doubt the hardest-hitting safety I have seen in the country this season.

I saw him at the Hawaii Bowl, the all-star game that matches Hawaii's best players with a group of mainlanders. Iowa-bound quarterback A.J. Derby of Iowa City, Iowa, participated in the event. I was there to interview the top 20 juniors on the islands.

Prelude to signing day

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Looking ahead to national signing day on Feb. 3, Florida is way ahead of its closest rivals in its bid to land the No. 1 recruiting class in the country. And this could be the first time in my 30 years of evaluating high school talent that the Big 10 will fail to have at least one school in the top 10.

As of this moment, Florida rates No. 1 followed (in order) by Texas, Alabama, USC, Auburn, Oklahoma, Penn State, LSU, Florida State and Georgia. The fact that five SEC schools are on the elite list only re-emphasizes that the conference is most dominant of all.

If Penn State drops out, Texas A&M, Tennesse, Notre Dame or Michigan could climb into the top 10.

Iowa does it better than most

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Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and his staff do a great job of evaluating and developing players. In fact, Ferentz has a reputation for doing the best job in the nation of developing offensive linemen. Not bad for a Big 10 school located in a state that doesn't produce many blue-chip players.

Iowa was a top 10 team last season. But the Hawkeyes never sign a top 10 recruiting class. Instead, they do a great job of evaluating kids and finding the right kids to fit into their system. This year's class likely will finish fourth in the Big 10 behind Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan. They could finish in the top 30 nationally.

So how do they do it?

The maturation of Michael Oher

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The new movie, "Blind Side," depicting the life and trials of Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Michael Oher, is a smash hit at the box office, one of the most popular attractions of the year. It might even receive some Academy Award nominations.

But Oher has stated publicly that he hasn't seen the movie and doesn't plan to. In fact, he said he hasn't even read the best-selling book by New York Times writer Michael Lewis that the movie is based on.

Oher insists he would have succeeded without the help of the family that is credited by one and all for turning the youngster's life around. Apparently, he is embarrassed by the way he is portrayed in the movie.

Evaluating the top juniors

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James Wilder of Tampa, Fla., a 6-2, 225-pound running back/linebacker, is my choice as the No. 1 player in the class of 2011. The son of an All-Pro running back with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Wilder was the leading performer at the U.S. Army combine last weekend in San Antonio.

Wilder led his team to the state championship last season in the best state for talent. He is leaning to Florida, which has offered him.

But it isn't a done deal, of course. Running back Kenny Hilliard of Patterson, La., who is committed to LSU, is another strong candidate. Hilliard has rushed for more than 6,000 yards in his career. He was invited but didn't show up at the U.S. Army combine.

Kyle Prater's recruiting revisited

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Proviso West wide receiver Kyle Prater returned home Sunday after participating in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. He was supposed to be packing his bags for a trip to Los Angeles to enroll at USC for the next semester with a look toward spring football practice. Now he isn't sure what he is going to do or where he is going to go.

USC coach Pete Carroll changed Prater's plans when he announced he will be the next coach of the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL. When Prater heard the news on Friday, he was devastated. He looked great in pre-game workouts early in the week but disappointed in the game. Obviously, his heart wasn't in it and his mind was elsewhere. Who can blame him?

Now Prater will sit back and wait and weigh his options. Feb. 3 in the signing day for college football recruits. Prater likely will wait to see who succeeds Carroll at USC. He also will re-consider Illinois and Notre Dame, maybe Oklahoma. He visited all of those schools officially and they were on his list of finalists. He still has one official visit remaining, though it must be to another school that he hasn't visited.

Kickoff in San Antonio

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Most of the best high school football players in the nation will participate in the ninth annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl at noon on Saturday at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The game will be televised on NBC, Ch. 5 in Chicago.

With all due respect to the UnderArmour all-star game that was played last week, an overwhelming majority of talent will be on display in the U.S. Army game. The top four players in the nation are in San Antonio. And five Chicago area products will participate.

In pregame workouts, Proviso West wide receiver Kyle Prater is looking very good. He will move into the top 20 in the nation, the second best wide receiver behind Robert Woods of Gardena, Calif. Both are committed to USC.

Learning the recruiting process

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Every year I receive dozens of calls from parents who complain that they aren't educated in the recruiting process. They don't know the ABC's of how to get their son evaluated, how to get him exposure and how to deal with college coaches.

Recruiting is a business and parents have to understand that it isn't a social hour. The college coaches are the pros and the parents are the amateurs. In this game, it is no contest. But it doesn't have to be that way. Parents need to take a firm control of the recruiting process.

Here is a typical case: A parent said her son was her first child to experience the recruiting process and she had absolutely no idea that college coaches were evaluating athletes during their junior year. She wasn't aware that the process began so soon.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2009 is the previous archive.

February 2010 is the next archive.

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