April 2010 Archives

Most important time of the year

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This is the May evaluation period for high school football, the most important time of the year for college recruiting. In fact, even with the rise in early commitments and the saturation of the Internet and the proliferation of camps and combines, it is more important than ever.

This is the month that coaches are allowed to go on the road, to see prospects face-to-face, to size them up, to evaluate film, to talk to their high school coaches. They can't talk to them at school but they are allowed to place only one phone call to each recruit during the month. But so much other work can be done. For example, the time affords coaches an opportunity to see kids they haven't seen.

By now, some schools have offered as many as 200 scholarships even though when it comes down to the February signing date they can only sign 25. But they know if they haven't offered a player by May, they will lose him to another school.

NCSA gets 5-star recommendation

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Hundreds of football players sign up with local and national recruiting services in hopes of attracting exposure and scholarships. But many still don't receive a single offer. What does that mean?

It means there a lot of businesses out there but, in my opinion, only the Chicago-based National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA) does a great job and has the ability and support elements to provide the most opportunities--and the best opportunity--for a young athlete to get financial aid at the college level, in football, basketball and other sports.

NCSA has exploded nationally in the last five years. I've known Chris Krause, the founder and director of the organization, for a long time, since he was a linebacker at North Chicago and was looking for a way to play in college, any college.

Go to camps, not combines

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I received an e-mail from a concerned high school coach the other day. I think he speaks for a lot of coaches and I hope I can put his mind at ease and, at the same time, provide some sensible advice that he can use his players in the future.

"I am a head football coach and I have done everything I can possibly think of from sending out films, taking visits, calling and e-mailing coaches, taking my players to combines and camps, etc.," the coach wrote. "Is there anything else? Maybe my evaluation skills are wrong. Maybe I think my kids are better than they really are. I don't know."

Coach, you have done everything right. There is only so much a coach can do. Now it is up to the college coaches to decide if they like your players or not. To use an overused old saw, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. Well, you can lead a coach to a prospect but you can't make him offer a scholarship if he doesn't like him.

Your job is to make sure the college coach is aware of your player and make sure they look at the film. After I watch a film, I give it to the National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA) and they allow every coach in the country to watch it for free. College coaches don't offer a kid based on a high school coach's recommendation. The final decision is up to the college coach. And college coaches can be wrong in their evaluations. Remember Russell Maryland, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Barry Sanders and Kurt Warner?

Hard times in the Midwest

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For the Big 10 Conference to have a successful season of recruiting for 2011, all 11 schools must go national. Why? Every state in the Midwest lacks football talent this year. Ohio is good but not up to its usual standards. The Chicago area is down, too, not at all comparable to the class of 2010.

Take Minnesota, for example. It's a down year. The best player is 6-4, 290-pound offensive lineman Tom Olson of Mahtomedi. The best center in the Midwest and one of the top two or three centers in the nation, he is committed to Minnesota. As a sophomore, I rated him as a future All-American. But he is the only player in the state who has made a commitment.

The only other player who has been offered is 6-3, 215-pound tight end Peter Westerhaus of Minneapolis. He has been offered by Minnesota.

Coaches can be helpful

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Some high school football coaches don't believe that it is in their job description to assist their players in the recruiting process, that it should be up to the parents to send their sons to college, that they aren't paid to provide what they claim is an extra service.

Fortunately, there are a lot fewer of them today than there were when I began evaluating players in the late 1970s. In those days, most high school coaches didn't put forth an effort to help their kids. But recruiting has become a second season and most high school coaches have become part of the new era of recruiting.

Some are better than others. Some go the extra mile to help their players. In Illinois, former Richards coach Gary Korhonen was the best. Others of note are Ken Leonard of Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin, Mike DiMatteo of Hinsdale Central, Steve Nye of Brother Rice, Bill Mosel of Thornton, Famous Hulbert of Proviso West and Todd Kuska of St. Rita.

North by Northwest

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I backpacked from Seattle to Portland and discovered that it is a very good year for high school football talent in the Pacific Northwest. The thing is that some of these blue chippers haven't been discovered by the rest of the nation yet. But they will be soon enough.

Washington has four outstanding prospects who deserve All-America status and should be invited to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. It also is an outstanding year in Oregon, which boasts two five-star players.

Kason Williams, a 6-2, 200-pound wide receiver from Sammamish, Wash., is the first four-time all-stater in Washington history. His father played at Washington. He has many scholarship offers, including Florida, USC and Notre Dame.

Klachko to Nebraska

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Ryan Klachko, a 6-4, 290-pound offensive lineman from Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin, has made an oral commitment to Nebraska. Klachko is the top-rated offensive lineman in Illinois and the No. 2 prospect behind running back Rodney Coe of Edwardsville.

Klachko, another blue-chip prospect produced by veteran coach Ken Leonard, was recruited by former Southern Illinois coach Shawn Watson, now offensive coordinator at Nebraska. He is the best player that Nebraska has recruited out of the Chicago area since Nate Turner of Mount Carmel.

Seattle to Anchorage

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I flew from Chicago to Denver, then to Salt Lake City, drove to Seattle, then flew to Anchorage. It is the first time I have ever been to Alaska. And it means I have visited every one of 50 states during the course of my 31-year career to meet and evaluate high school players. Yes, there are good prospects in Alaska. I interviewed five of them.

Alaska has produced Division I basketball players in the past. Duke has recruited a couple of them. But some people argue the reason Alaska hasn't produced any Division I football players is because of a lack of publicity, that nobody ever bothers to come to the state to see if anyone can play the game.

We'll detail the top five players in Alaska in our next blog. In the meantime, let's cover some prospects in Colorado and Utah who are receiving national attention.

Downstate Illinois is loaded

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The Chicago area may not boast as many big-time prospects in the class of 2011 as the city and suburbs produced in 2010. But Downstate Illinois is loaded with talent. At East St. Louis, for example, coach Darren Sunkett has six legitimate Division I prospects.

Sunkett's top players are 6-2, 270-pound defensive tackle Clint Tucker, 6-1, 210-pound running back Vincent Arterbridge and 6-2, 195-pound wide receiver Keante Minor. Each has several scholarship offers.

The No. 1 player in the state is 6-3, 230-pound running back/linebacker Rodney Coe of Edwardsville. Alabama has offered Coe as a running back while other schools are recruiting him as a linebacker.

About this Archive

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

March 2010 is the previous archive.

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