February 2010 Archives

On the way to the Mall

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On the way to my first vacation (only two days) in since 1999, I want to update you on some of the top prospects I encountered in South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Illinois used to be a dominant and omni-present factor in the Maryland/D.C. area--until recruiting whiz Mike Locksley left to become head coach at New Mexico. Illinois also was strong in Florida. But the Illini are seldom mentioned in these parts now. Instead, Iowa and Wisconsin are getting a lot of attention from the leading players.

Ohio State is in on most of the big-name prospects. Purdue and Michigan are all over Florida. Look for Illinois to renew its ties in Florida when coach Ron Zook's newly hired assistants from Louisville make their presence felt. They have more ties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana but they did a great job in Florida, too.

Sweet Carolinas

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First, some breaking news: Notre Dame has offered Conor Hanratty, the son of former Irish All-American and NFL quarterback Terry Hanratty. The 6-4, 300-pound offensive lineman from New Caanan, Connecticut, also has offers from Northwestern, Wisconsin, Iowa, Stanford and Clemson.

Ironically, the nephew of former Notre Dame quarterback Coley O'Brien, who subbed for the injured Terry Hanratty in the famous Notre Dame/Michigan State game in 1966, is the top-rated quarterback in the Maryland and Washington, D.C. area. He is Kevin Hogan, a 6-4, 200-pounder at Gonzaga Prep in Washington, D.C. Hogan has offers from Maryland, Virginia and Rutgers.

Scouting Florida's West Coast

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Before I resume my two-week odyssey and bring you up to date with my observations and evaluations from Florida, let me mention two things of immediate importance:

1. Fremd center Brian Bobek has been offered by Ohio State. That is a major catch for the youngster. I don't know that he had any other offers up to then. He and his father made unofficial visits to Purdue and Ohio State. After Ohio State coaches reviewed Bobek's tape, they offered a scholarship immediately.

2. The Bobek case demonstrates how important it is for athletes and their parents to travel right now. Take as many unofficial visits to college campuses as possible. If you think you are a Division I prospect, call ahead and tell the schools that you are coming and request for a tour by a college coach or graduate assistant. If you think you are a Division II or III player, call those schools.

Marching through Georgia

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I have begun a two-week trip that will take me through most of the states in the Southeast. I will drive about 7,000 miles and meet about 300 football players, including 100 in Florida.

Last Saturday, I interviewed 20 of the top 25 players in the Atlanta area during a session at Georgia Tech. It was 15 degrees with four inches of snow on the ground at 7 o'clock in the morning. Some kids couldn't get to the meeting because they didn't know how to navigate through the snow. The weather was something they had never experienced. Hey, on Sunday, it as in the 40s in Palm Beach, Florida.

My brother is a policeman in Marietta, Georgia, and he claims people don't know how to drive in the snow. There were accidents everywhere.

Earlier, in Nashville, Tennessee, I met 6-7, 310-pound Antonio Richardson, the top offensive lineman in the state. I also met 6-3, 230-pound defensive lineman Matt Everett, who was recommended by his uncle, country singer Tim McGraw.

All aboard for Akron

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One of the most interesting and impelling aspects of the recruiting process for college football over the last several years has been the increasing number of big-time colleges that have begun to spend time and money in the Chicago area, schools that rarely if ever bothered to recruit the city and suburbs in the past.

For example, USC, Oklahoma, Miami and Tennessee have established a presence in the Chicago area. Until recently, they never ventured into O'Hare Airport except for a stopover or connecting flight.

But the Mid-American Conference is making bigger and bigger inroads in the city and suburbs. The latest is Akron. With new coach Rob Ianello bringing in a staff with Illinois roots, look for Akron to establish a major presence in the Chicago area. In fact, almost before he unpacked, Ianello signed two suburban standouts.

Three is the charm

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The class of 2010 isn't the best crop of football players ever produced in the Chicago area. But it set an historical precedent that ought to be noted. It was the first class to land three representatives on the list of the top 25 players in the nation.

USC-bound wide receiver Kyle Prater of Proviso West, Notre Dame-bound offensive lineman Christian Lombard of Fremd and Iowa-bound tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz of Johnsburg were included on my list of the top 25 players in the nation, based on the leading performers by position.

At the same time, Prater, Lombard and Fiedorowicz were selected on EA Sports' first team on offense, which recognized the top 11 offensive players in the nation.

Looking on the bright side

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If you are a member of Illini Nation or a fan of Big 10 football, you don't have much to smile about today. In the wake of the national signing day, the Big 10 continues to play catch-up with the SEC and Big 12. If that isn't bad enough, it appears the Pac-10 is taking big strides to move ahead of the Big 10.

No matter how you looked at the recruiting classes for 2010 or came to any one of a dozen conclusions about the results, it was a very bleak day for Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, Illinois coach Ron Zook and the folks at the Big 10 Network. If this was a mid-term election, the Big 10 would be looking for work.

But, hey, there are reasons for optimism. Let's look on the bright side.

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

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