December 2010 Archives

Bound for San Antonio

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Twenty-five Chicago area products, including quarterback Robert Gregory and offensive tackle Jordan Diamond of Simeon, wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp of Montini and offensive tackle Dan Voltz of Barrington, will be among 500 juniors on display at the U.S. Army's annual combine on Jan. 7 in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

It is the biggest and best combine in the nation. It is conducted early--on the Friday prior to the U.S. Army's annual All-American Bowl, which will be televised at noon on Jan. 8 on NBC--so players can get a lot of publicity and exposure.

College coaches aren't permitted to attend the event. But word gets out on the Internet. It is a good venue for juniors to make national reputations for themselves or prove they are as good as their hype.

Nation's top athletes

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

In rounding out my list of the top 10 players at each position--my updated list of the top 100 players in the nation will be released after the U.S. Army All-American Game in January--I want to cite the leading athletes, players who are talented enough and skilled enough to play more than one position.

1. James Wilder of Tampa, Fla., is a 6-2, 220-pound running back/linebacker with 4.5 speed who is the son of a former NFL star. He is rated as the No. 1 player in the nation in my preseason list but will drop a bit in my final evaluations because he was injured during the season and wasn't able to play up to expectations. He is committed to Florida State, an All-American at both positions. In my view, he would be the best linebacker in the nation if he wanted to be. But he wants to be a running back in college. He is one of the 10 best running backs in the nation but not the best.

Nation's top cornerbacks

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

This is an average year for cornerbacks, one of the most difficult positions for college recruiters and NFL scouts to fill. They have to be the most athletic of all players, able to run backward as fast as wide receivers run forward and defend against them. In the end, they usually are found playing other positions.

1. Jabriel Washington of Jackson, Tenn., is a 5-11, 165-pounder with 4.5 speed who is rated as the No. 57 player in the nation. He is committed to Alabama, which has recruited a stable of gifted defensive backs in recent years. He is an outstanding quarterback on offense but is even more valuable on defense. Alabama jumped on him early.

2. Josh Turner of Oklahoma City, Okla., is a 6-1, 175-pounder with 4.5 speed who is the No. 73 player in the nation. He is the top-rated player in Oklahoma. He is committed to Texas. An outstanding athlete, he was recruited as a wide receiver and cornerback.

Coe, McCall commit to Iowa

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Iowa scored a major recruiting coup on Sunday when running back/linebacker Rodney Coe of Edwardsville, the top-rated player in Illinois, and running back Mikail McCall of Thornridge committed to Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz.

Coe, a 6-3, 230-pounder, chose Iowa over Illinois. He could be an All-America at running back or linebacker but he prefers to play running back. He was slowed by injuries as a senior but, when healthy, he has 4.5 speed and is one of the best big backs in the country, a perfect fit for Iowa's offense. Coe and McCall could form a pony express backfield that could remind old-timers of SMU's Eric Dickerson and Craig James.

McCall, who originally had committed to Michigan State, had his scholarship offer pulled by Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio after McCall made his official visit to the East Lansing campus on Dec. 3 and voiced some concerns over the number of running backs in Michigan State's recruiting class.

McCall, who had chosen Michigan State over Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota, informed Dantonio that he wanted to take a recruiting trip to Iowa. Soon afterward, Dantonio pulled his scholarship offer, claiming McCall had broken their non-binding agreement.

Iowa had continued to recruit McCall, a 205-pounder, after he had committed to Michigan State. Thornridge coach Mike Morrissey has close ties to the Iowa program. McCall committed to Iowa on Sunday, during his official visit to the Iowa City campus.

I've never heard of this happening before in major college recruiting, not in all of my 30 years of evaluating high school talent, but Notre Dame has already lost three top 100 commitments from the class of 2011 and the Irish may be on the brink of losing a fourth, defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt of Monroe, Ga.

Tuitt, a 6-6, 255-pounder who is rated as the No. 77 player in the nation, is visiting Auburn. Originally, he chose Notre Dame over Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Florida and North Carolina. In the wake of Notre Dame's on-campus and on-the-field issues during the past season, and the losses of running back Justice Hayes of Grand Blanc, Mich., to Michigan and offensive lineman Jordan Prestwood of Plant City, Fla., and defensive end Aaron Lynch of Cape Coral, Fla., to Florida State, Tuitt apparently has been persuaded to look elsewhere. Notre Dame also lost defensive back Clay Burton of Venice, Fla., to Florida.

I must admit I really like Tuitt. I had arranged to interview him and several other top prospects in the Atlanta area. But he had a basketball game that day and was going to meet me the night before, despite a driving ice and snow storm that caused hundreds of automobile accidents in the metropolitan area. Even so, Tuitt, his mother and two siblings took four hours to drive the normally 30-minute trip to meet me in Marietta.

Evaluating the Class of 2012

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

As I have said and written repeatedly in recent years, the most important year for high school football players who aspire to compete in Division I in college is their junior year, the time when college recruiters become aware of their skills and potential. If they haven't made a statement prior to their senior year, it's often too late.

So I already have begun evaluating and identifying the most promising prospects in the Class of 2012, this year's juniors. I have made one trip to Alabama and the Deep South and I will leave on Dec. 26 on a month-long trip to Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, North Carolina and Georgia. The annual highlight of the January trip, of course, is the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and combine in San Antonio, Texas.

Presenting the "Lemmies"

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

It is time to award my annual Tom Lemming awards, better known as the "Lemmies," to the leading college coaches/recruiters and high school players in the nation for the 2010 season. Most significantly, two awards go to people with Chicago area ties.

The "Rising Star of the Year" award goes to quarterback Reilly O'Toole of Wheaton Warrenville South. The 6-3, 185-pound senior, who is committed to Illinois, completed a staggering 75 percent of his passes for 3,187 yards and 42 touchdowns while leading the Tigers to their second Class 7A state championship in a row. He was intercepted only three times.

Based on his peformance last year, we knew about him. But he far exceeded expectations this season. He can be a star at Illinois. He is a pure passer with a good arm. His consistency at putting the ball where his receivers can catch it is extraordinary.

Nation's top safeties

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

It is a very good year for safeties. The top four in the nation are Florida products. It is a big and aggressive and exceptionally productive class, one of the most talented groups I have seen.

1. Karlos Williams of Davenport, Fla., is a 6-2, 210-pounder who is the No. 9 player in the nation. He is committed to Florida State. He had outstanding seasons as a junior and senior. He made 105 tackles this year. He is a threat to make a game-changing play with an interception or a hit. He benches 350 pounds.

2. Wayne Lyons of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is a 6-0, 185-pounder who is the No. 16 player in the nation. Unfortunately, he missed most of his senior season with a knee injury. When he is healthy, he is one of the premier playmakers in the country. He was the best defensive player at the San Antonio combine last January. Uncommitted, he is considering Stanford, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Florida.

Nation's top inside linebackers

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

The best inside linebacker in the country is committed to Michigan State, which can't be good news for other Big 10 schools, because Lawrence Thomas is good enough to play as a true freshman.

1. Lawrence Thomas of Detroit is a 6-4, 260-pounder with 4.6 speed who is rated as the No. 36 player in the nation. He is the leading prospect in Michigan. He is big, aggressive and fast. He could grow into an interior defensive lineman.

2. Curtis Grant of Richmond, Va., is a 6-3, 225-pounder who is rated as the No. 40 player in the nation. He is the best player to come out of Richmond in the last five years. Uncommitted, he is considering Michigan, Florida, Ohio State, Virginia, Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Georgia and North Carolina. He is very productive and has great instincts from sideline to sideline.

Northwestern offers Alviti, Westerkamp

| 1 Comment | No TrackBacks

Northwestern has become an aggressive player in big-time college football and, to become more competitive with the elite and tradition-rich programs such as Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame, coach Pat Fitzgerald has changed his recruiting philosophy. And his new strategy seems to be working.

Under Fitzgerald, the Wildcats have become a national recruiter, going head-to-head with the elite programs to sign the best players from coast to coast who can meet Northwestern's tougher academic standards. And Fitzgerald also is eager to get in the front door with the best young prospects.

With that in mind, he received a commitment in October from running back Malin Jones of Joliet Catholic, one of the leading players in the class of 2012 in Illinois. Last weekend, he offered a scholarship to sophomore quarterback Matt Alviti of Maine South. And he also has offered wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp of Montini, another top-rated junior.

About this Archive

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

November 2010 is the previous archive.

January 2011 is the next archive.

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