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Second Season: December 2008 Archives

On the road again

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I started my 31st annual national tour on Christmas Day. The temperature was zero when I left Chicago. It was 71 degrees when I arrived in Little Rock, Arkansas, the next day.

In the next five months, I will personally meet, interview and evaluate the films of 1,500 prospects in 48 states. I will see 700 of them on this trip, including 500 at the U.S. Army Combine next week in San Antonio, Texas. Fifty of the top 100 players in the class of 2010 will be there.

I went from Chicago to Little Rock to Warren, Junction City and Lonoke in Arkansas, then to Monroe, Louisiana, then to Lufkin, Texas, then to College Station, on to Dallas, Temple, Austin, then to San Antonio for seven days before stopping in Arkansas and Iowa on the way back to Chicago.

Remember the Alamo

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Twenty-five Chicago area products are among 500 juniors from across the nation who have been invited to the U.S. Army's annual Junior Combine next month in San Antonio, Texas. It is an invitation-only event and eight of the nation's top 10 quarterbacks and the top three offensive linemen will attend.

It is the eighth year for the one-day event, which is conducted on the same weekend as the U.S. Army All-American Bowl pitting the nation's leading seniors. It is the premier combine in the country, a measuring stick for players to see where they are or where they could be. They are tested athletically against some of the best players in the nation.

The Chicago contingent is headed by offensive lineman Christian Lombard of Fremd and wide receiver Kyle Prater of Proviso West, two of the top 100 juniors in the nation.

The politics of all-star games

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There is great competition between the two major nationally television all-star games--NBC's U.S. Army All-Amrican Bowl and ESPN's Under Armour All-America Game--and, in the end, I think it's good for high school football.

It is good to have two games because about 170 kids get an opportunity to receive national exposure. Maybe there is room for a third game. As it is, the two games get their share of the top-rated players in the nation.

The rosters have been announced. U.S. Army has 45 of the top 100 players in the country, six of the top 10, 14 of the top 20 and 29 of the top 50. Under Armour has 30 of the top 100, six of the top 14 and 18 of the top 50. Under Armour also has the nation's top-rated player, USC-bound quarterback Matt Barkley of Santa Ana, Calif.

Will Locksley loss hurt Illinois?

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Offensive coordinator and chief recruiter Mike Locksley's decision to leave coach Ron Zook's staff and became the new head coach at New Mexico could have some immediate consequences for Illinois recruiting.

Locksley is an excellent recruiter, one of the top 20 in the country. He has a knack for establishing a rapport with recruits. He dominated the Washington D.C./Maryland area. He landed Arrelious Benn and Vontae Davis, two of Illinois' best players. It will be difficult to attract prospects from that area without him.

For example, Locksley was close to two of the top 100 players in the country, offensive lineman Peter White and linebacker Jelani Jenkins, both from the Washington D.C./Maryland region. They are expected to announce their commitments at the U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio next month. Illinois is in the mix for both of them but the loss of Locksley could hurt.

Ode to a long snapper

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Too small to be an offensive or defensive lineman at the college level? How about long snapping?

Long snapping, an art form that only recently has begun to be appreciated by college recruiters and NFL scouts, is one way to punch a ticket to college and even the NFL. A center is supposed to be 6-4 and weigh 300 pounds. So if you don't fit the size requirements, if you are good enough to qualify as a long snapper, you could earn a scholarship.

Long snapping is an important part of the game today. For references, ask the Bears' Pat Mannelly, who has made a handsome living in the NFL as a long snapper. It is an art that is only recently has begun to be appreciated by college recruiters and NFL scouts--the ability to snap accurately and swiftly on punts, extra points, field goals and even the spread offense.

About this Archive

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

Second Season: November 2008 is the previous archive.

Second Season: January 2009 is the next archive.

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