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Second Season: June 2009 Archives

Patience is the key in recruiting

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Illinois, Notre Dame and Northwestern fans get flustered because they want their football teams to accumulate a lot of early commitments. Fans of every school want to see action early. If not, they get impatient, not realizing it is a long recruiting season. The goal is to get the best players, not to get as many early commitments as possible.

At the moment, Illinois has three commitments--lineman Shawn Afryl of Niles West, quarterback Chandler Whitmer of Downers Grove South and safety Corey Cooper of Proviso East. Notre Dame has five commitments, including offensive lineman Christian Lombard of Fremd. Northwestern has no commitments at all.

But local fans get out of sorts when they learn that Texas as 19 commitments, Alabama 15, LSU 13, Florida 12, Oklahoma 11 and USC eight.

Watch the Hawkeyes

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Remember when Iowa scored a slam dunk in football recruiting in the Chicago area five years ago? When coach Kirk Ferentz signed five of the top six players, including two starters on next season's squad, tight end Tony Moeaki of Wheaton Warrenville South and offensive tackle Dan Doering of Barrington?

Well, the Hawkeyes haven't done well in the Chicago area in recent years--Illinois and Notre Dame have landed a majority of the elite players--but Ferentz and his staff, including chief recruiter Les Erb, are showing signs of making a major comeback with the class of 2010.

Iowa bounced back last season, finishing in a tie for fourth in the Big 10 with a 5-3 record and winning its last four games in a row for a 9-4 slate, closing with a 31-10 victory over South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.

How do you evaluate a prospect?

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There are many recruiting services and hundreds of college recruiters and everybody has their own method of evaluating and rating football prospects. But you can take one thing to the bank. You can't rate a kid based on the number of scholarship offers he has received. Or, in my view, you shouldn't.

For example, Fremd offensive lineman Christian Lombard had 32 offers as of Jan. 1, far more than anyone else in Illinois. Then he chose to commit to Notre Dame. He didn't opt to continue his recruiting, as some do, and visit more schools. So he didn't receive any more offers. If he had remained uncommitted, he would have more than 60 offers by now.

But he didn't so he doesn't. Instead, he was dropped off the chart by some recruiting services while uncommitted players received more attention. It's all about the political games that are played on the Internet. The recruiting websites get mad when kids commit to someone other than themselves or they choose not to play footsy with them.

Grade-changing in football, too

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The recent allegations about grade-changing and fraudulent test-taking in the case of former Simeon and current Chicago Bulls basketball star Derrick Rose aren't surprising in this age of high-pressure recruiting. And they certainly aren't reserved for basketball. Football has known its share of academic scandals.

If you read Michael Lewis' best-selling book, "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game," the story of former Mississippi offensive lineman Michael Oher, who was the 23rd pick in the 2009 NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens, you learned that somebody is always trying to figure out a way to skirt around the rules.

I have been evaluating high school football players for 30 years, long enough to know that these illegal and unethical and immoral practices have been going on long before Oher--and they'll be going on long after his career is over.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by Second Season in June 2009.

Second Season: May 2009 is the previous archive.

Second Season: July 2009 is the next archive.

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