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.
The day before the game, however, Darren Hernandez, a coach from another high school, showed me Ioane's film. I was impressed. I couldn't believe he wasn't getting any attention from college recruiters.
Of course, a lot of colleges don't make the long and expensive trip to Hawaii. Washington and Boise State knew about Ioane. He had fallen between the cracks. So I recommended him to some other schools. It will be interesting how his recruiting shakes out. I moved him to the No. 89 position on my final top 100 list.
I was shocked that Notre Dame hadn't talked to him. After all, last year, they had signed Teo and one other player from the same high school. How could they have missed Ioane? He is visiting Notre Dame this weekend.
I have told several schools that they are making a mistake by overlooking Ioane. He can run and hit and he is an A student. Sure, he may be closer to 5-9 1/2 than 5-11 but he is dominating on film.
Some colleges don't want to take a chance on a player if they are convinced he is undersized. But I firmly believe if a kid is productive in high school, he will be productive in college. All he needs is for someone to give him a chance to prove it.
That's one adjustment I have made to my evaluating style over the years. Today, I tend to overlook lack of size if a player is dominating on film--and Ioane is dominating on film.