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Second Season: August 2008 Archives

Nation's top 10 recruiters

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I've been covering college football recruiting for 31 years and nobody does it better than USC's Pete Carroll. He heads my list of the top 10 recruiters in the head coaching fraternity, which includes Illinois' Ron Zook and Notre Dame's Charlie Weis.

Carroll has great charisma. He doesn't have great facilities to show to recruits and the USC camps is located in Watts, not Beverly Hills. But USC has more talent than a few NFL teams. His third-string players are better than many first-stringers on other Pac-10 teams. Success breeds success and USC, located in one of the richest of all breeding grounds for high school talent, keeps reloading every year.

Here are the other leading recruiters, listed alphabetically:

Three Illini in Top 100

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After evaluating more than 2,000 players from coast to coast in the last nine months, I've come to the conclusion that five Illinois products and three of Illini coach Ron Zook's recruits deserve to be ranked among the top 100 in the nation.

The five homegrown players are defensive end Craig Drummond (36) of Morgan Park, Notre Dame-bound offensive guard Chris Watt (67) of Glenbard West, Illinois-bound wide receivers Kraig Appleton (82) and Terry Hawthorne (97) of East St. Louis and Wisconsin-bound quarterback Jon Budmayr (96) of Marian Central.

The other Illinois recruit is quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase (87) of Kansas City, Mo.

Official vs. Unofficial

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It may seem strange to recruiting freaks who follow the process from A to Z and coast to coast and website to website but some athletes, parents and even high school coaches aren't thoroughly educated on the subjects of official and unofficial visits.

What are they? How important are they? What do I need to know about them? Do I need to visit a college campus if they don't pay for my trip? Should all my trips be paid for? Should I take my parents along? What should I be on the look for when I visit a campus? Is all of this just window dressing? Do I need to make any trips at all?

How to attract more college coaches

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The number of college scholarships offered to and accepted by Chicago area high school football players went from an all-time high of 141 for the class of 1986 to less than 100 in each of the last 10 years.

Why? One reason is an emphasis on early commitments. Once most of the crop has been harvested in the spring and summer, many college recruiters don't come back in the winter. Another reason is that not as many college coaches, particularly from the SEC, Big 12, ACC, Big East and Pac-10, are landing at O'Hare Airport.

Take the class of 2009, for example. It is the weakest in the last three or four years. Three of the top prospects--Glenbard West lineman Chris Watt and quarterbacks Evan Watkins of Glenbard North and Jon Budmayr of Marian Central--committed early. The only big-timers who are uncommitted are Morgan Park's Craig Drummond and Providence's Patrick Ward.

Goro starting to get respect

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I know I shouldn't say I told you so but I told you so, didn't I? Back in the spring when other quarterbacks were being offered scholarships and Maine South quarterback Charlie Goro was being ignored, I said he was a big-time prospect. I said I couldn't understand why major college programs weren't giving him any respect. But I said his time would come. Well, now he is beginning to get respect from college recruiters.

Goro has received recent scholarship offers from Illinois and Vanderbilt. That's Big Ten and SEC. That's big-time. Look for the 6-3,190-pound senior to get more. If he waits until after the 2008 season--Maine South figures to rank among the top five teams in the Chicago area in the preseason--he should attract more attention and more offers.

I am surprised that it took schools this long to make offers. All along, I said he was a Division I prospect. But it takes time. He has the ability to throw on the run, he has pinpoint accuracy and he takes command. He is a natural quarterback.

Best of a below average crop

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It is a below average year for football talent in the Chicago area and the state of Illinois. Only three players are good enough to rank among the top 100 in the nation and only 19, including two from Leo, Thornton and East St. Louis, are good enough to rank among the top 25 at their positions, the lowest number in a long time.

The trio of top 100 players are defensive end Craig Drummond of Morgan Park, offensive lineman Chris Watt of Glenbard West and quarterback Jon Budmayr of Marian Central. Watt is committed to Notre Dame, Budmayr to Wisconsin.

Pratl is a big-timer

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It makes absolutely no sense to me why Shaun Pratl, Richards' 6-7, 230-pound tight end, hasn't received a single scholarship offer from a major Division I school. Not one.

Pratl, in my view is one of the top 25 tight ends in the nation. There is no question in my mind that he can play in the Big Ten. He has great size, can run 40 yards in 4.7 seconds and can catch the ball.

There may be some reasons why college football coaches have been reluctant to extend any offers. For one thing, there was some question whether Pratl wanted to play football or basketball in college. He is an outstanding basketball player. But he has made it clear that he wants to concentrate on football.

Watch for Zook down the stretch

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Illinois arguably can be considered one of the top 25 college football programs in the nation. So why has coach Ron Zook landed a commitment from only one top 100 prospect for the class of 2009?

Not to worry.

Zook's track record is to get the best players at the end of the recruiting cycle, like Martez Martin and Arrelious Benn. His philosophy is to put pressure on kids at the end, not in the beginning, the way Florida, LSU, Alabama and other great southern programs do.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by Second Season in August 2008.

Second Season: July 2008 is the previous archive.

Second Season: September 2008 is the next archive.

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