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Second Season: October 2008 Archives

Prater could be No. 1 junior

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Ray Hamilton, who scouts for me in the Chicago area, recommended that I see wide receiver Kyle Prater of Proviso West. I got an eyeful last Saturday when Prater competed against Illinois-bound defensive back Corey Cooper and his Proviso East teammates.

Prater, a 6-5, 185-pounder, is the real deal. He is the best wide receiver I have seen in Illinois since former Thornton star Tai Streets. He has a shot at emerging as the No. 1 player in the class of 2010 in Illinois. He ranks with Fremd lineman Christian Lombard and Johnsburg wide receiver C.J. Fiedorowicz.

I will promote him for the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Game. He has legitimate size, a great pair of hands, runs the slant pattern to perfection and catches the ball away from his body. If he was playing on a team with Maine South's Charlie Goro or Hinsdale Central's John Whitelaw, he would be the best receiver in the country next year.

A look at national recruiting

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The list of players who have reneged on early commitments is getting longer and longer and the reasons that some offer to explain their change of mind get sillier and sillier.

For example, wide receiver Shaquelle Evans of Inglewood, Calif., committed to USC, then described himself as a "soft verbal," visited Notre Dame, de-committed from USC, then said he was "up in the air" over Notre Dame and USC but may look at UCLA, California and Oregon.

It is typical of what is going on in the recruiting process. What is Evans thinking? He may think USC has too many wide receivers on its roster but Notre Dame has the best freshman wide receiver in the country in Michael Floyd. So Evans may not choose any school.

Is anybody keeping their word?

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The number of de-commitments among high school football players is reaching epidemic proportions. Seniors from coast to coast, from sea to shining sea, are reneging on their early pledges. Curiously, to my knowledge, there are no reports of any Illinois products changing their minds.

Here is a partial list of some of the big-name players who have de-committed in recent weeks:

* Quarterback Josh Nunes of Upland, Calif., de-committed from Tennessee and opted to make a new commitment to Stanford.

My favorites and why

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In more than 30 years of traveling the country to evaluate high school talent and meeting college recruiters, Michigan is the college I have enjoyed dealing with the most and Texas Tech's Mike Leach is the coach I have found to be the most fascinating.

I have enjoyed my relationship with Michigan because of the presence of Lloyd Carr, a good friend who was always there. He rejoined Bo Schembechler's staff in 1979 after serving on Gary Moeller's ill-fated regime at Illinois.

We had a wonderful relationship when he was head coach. He had a lot of integrity. He was honest and trusting. You felt comfortable talking with him and sharing information. He even wrote the forward to my book, "Football's Second Season."

Randy Moss was the best

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Randy Moss is one of the most controversial football players of recent memory but, over the 30 years that I have been evaluating high school athletes, he was the best I ever observed.

I caught him early. He already had been discovered in Charleston, West Virginia. But he wasn't known nationally. I found out about him when he was a sophomore. I was watching film on another prospect in Pittsburgh's football office and a coach suggested that I should check out a sophomore in Belle, West Virginia.

It was Randy Moss. I still think he is the best high school player I have ever seen.

The whole truth and nothing but the truth

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As a recruiting analyst for college football, I'm often caught between a rock and a hard place. Fans and alumni either love me or hate me, depending on how I rank their school's recruiting classes or evaluate their top prospects.

If you tell the truth and it isn't perceived as a positive viewpoint by the coaches--for example, they don't like my evaluation because I say they aren't doing well or aren't recruiting the right kids or aren't recruiting kids the right way--they will cancel their subscriptions to my magazine.

Over the last 30 years, Notre Dame and every Big Ten school has canceled my publication at one time or other as a protest to what I have written or said in the Chicago Sun-Times.

A look at some blue-chippers

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Glenbard West's Chris Watt is the best offensive guard prospect in the country. The Notre Dame-bound 6-4, 290-pound lineman reminds me of former St. Laurence, Notre Dame and NFL star Tim Grunhard.

Watt dominates everybody he goes up against. If ever the Player of the Year award was presented to an offensive lineman instead of a quarterback or running back, as it usually is, Watt would be the one.

He is aggressive, never takes a play off, has great feet, is technically sound, is full of enthusiasm and loves to play the game.

About this Archive

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

Second Season: September 2008 is the previous archive.

Second Season: November 2008 is the next archive.

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