Sunday, February 28, 2010
The ACC is stacked this year with six teams in the top 25, including top ranked Virginia. The SEC, as usual, is well represented too with five teams, including defending national champion LSU
You can check out their ACC and SEC previews as well. I hope to have a Q & A up in the next week or so with The College Baseball Blog about the season just underway.
ACC Coastal Preview
ACC Atlantic Preview
SEC East Preview
SEC West Preview
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010
I always find these “scout’s takes” fascinating because you get to hear what people with very valid opinions of teams think without repercussions.
“The Blue Devils' main weakness is their overall team speed. If you can drive the ball against them, if you can beat your man, a lot of times they overplay on the sides so you have a chance to get to the basket.”
Funny because this is how Duke’s offense beats teams. The Blue Devils are one of the best in the nation and getting the ball deep into the half court and then either drawing a foul or kicking it out for a wide open three. And they do it with just three guys (Singler, Smith, Scheyer). The other two are simply space fillers on offense.
“They have very good athletes at Clemson but not necessarily great basketball players. The teams that have hurt them have been able to handle their press.”
I saw this when the Tigers played at Georgia Tech earlier this year. Pack your defense in and make Clemson hit outside shots.
Surprisingly, the Yellow Jackets broke the pressure with relative ease and it always helps to have a guy like Derrick Favors who you can throw an alley oop to on the other end.
Oliver Purnell has brought Clemson to an amazing level of consistency when you look at the Tigers basketball history, but he has yet to get over that hump in the NCAA Tournament.
“The biggest problem with Georgia Tech is that the Jackets invent turnovers”
So true, and it isn’t just a ‘this year’ problem either. Something else is at work.
“Iman] Shumpert is very tough, but it looks to me like he's trying to be in the NBA right now. [Mfon] Udofia doesn't understand at this point how to play the point guard position. They're so aggressive that they put you on the line.”
So essentially they don’t have a true point guard, which really hurts you in college basketball. Unless you are Duke.
“They're playing [Gani] Lawal and [Derrick] Favors, who are two mountains masquerading as men, but there's not a lot of room when you play those two guys because they're both low post players. They're almost better when they play [Zachery] Peacock because now they have a four who opens them up a little bit”
I do not necessarily agree with this, but Favors and Lawal need to be doing a better job on the defensive rebounding. They should be leading the ACC in rebounds per game.
“Also, their free throw shooting problems are real. You can't go very far in the tournament if you can't make free throws.”
Another early exit for the Deacs? I don’t think so because of Ish Smith’s ability to create easy baskets.
“Ish Smith makes this team go. He's not a great shooter, but he's a clutch shooter, and he is the quickest guard in our league foul line to foul line”
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I always find these “scout’s takes” fascinating because you get to hear what people with very valid opinions of teams think without repercussions. In other words, a beat writer is not going to put these thoughts out there without being shut out of the program. I always enjoying reading the preseason magazines that have this insight, but onto the highlights for the SEC.
“The second thing is their perimeter shooting. Statistically their percentages are respectable, but their volume of outside shots is not high.”
I whole heartedly agree and think this is what could burn Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament in a one game setting.
“There is no doubt Cousins is the best post player in college basketball. He's a load on the block, and it's incredible he gets one of every four shots taken off the offensive glass.”
This quote tells me how good of a job John Calipari has done with Cousins and why he is one of the best, if not the best coach in the country.
“Honestly, I don't know that they have a real weakness. I was surprised they didn't beat Kentucky, though you're obviously not going to beat many teams shooting 2-for-20 from three”
I was just as surprised about the loss, bu the 3 point shooting hurt them in the first loss as well.
“I think Tennessee has a lot of holes, to be honest with you, though Bruce Pearl has obviously done a great job managing what they went through.”
Another reason why I think Pearl is one of the top 10 coaches in the country. You would think a traditional basketball powers would come after him or an ACC school, but he is already one of the highest paid coaches at a football school in a football conference.
“They have some work to do, but if they get in as a 12 seed, I wouldn't want to be the 5 seed that has to play them in the first round.”
Which is what happened last year. Maybe the best 13 seed in NCAA Tournament history a year ago.
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Sunday, February 21, 2010
Mr. Staples has Florida ranked number one after the fact for their '07 class and who can blame him with stars like Joe Haden, Aaron Hernandez, and Carlos Dunlap providing the back bone for the 2008 national championship team.
At number three is the first surprise (I am not going to comment on Boise at #2 because we all know they couldn't win big in BCS conference every year) is Georgia Tech at number three.
This seems a little high to me. When discussing this class with the guys at From The Rumble Seat, they had glowing things to say about it, but I just think you have to accomplish more than just one conference title for a top five ranking. I think somewhere in the 5 to 10 range would have been more appropriate.
Virginia comes in at number seven which seems about right. The Hokies were ranked 29th by Rivals in 2007 and I asked Gobbler Country why Va. Tech is always rated so low, yet their on the field performance is usually top ten at the end of the season?
Alabama rounded at the top 10 and it is probably solely because of Rolando McClain, the defensive captain of the national champion Crimson Tide. But Roll 'Bama Roll felt this class was largely forgettable outside of the McClain.
After signing day in 2007, Rivals had Tennessee, LSU, South Carolina, Auburn, and Georgia all ranked in their top 10, but none made Staples re rank (LSU was close he said)
Leftover Hot Dog provided some insight for me into why the Gamecock class has not panned out yet. Remember, this was the class that finally brought Steve Spurrier his QB in Columbia - Stephen Garcia. South Carolina signed another highly touted prospect, RB Marcus Lattimore, this year. Lets check back in a few years and see how he turns out.
The 2007 class not living up to expectations may have been the down fall for Tommy Tuberville at Auburn. The Tigers were back in the top 10 this year under Gene Chizik. What is Chizik doing differently? I asked War Blog Eagle for their thoughts on Auburn recruiting.
And the esteemed Senator Blutarsky chimed on UGA's 2007 class.
More Recruiting Reviews
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Saturday, February 20, 2010
A team that sits right in the middle of the pack is Georgia Tech who at 6-6 in league play is fighting for an NCAA Tournament bid.
The Yellow Jackets try to steal just their second ACC road win this season in College Park Saturday.
Keys To The Game:
1. Greivis Vasquez
Maryland's point guard is the engine that makes them go. If Paul Hewitt's team wants to pull off the upset, they have to slow Vasquez down and frustrate by not allowing him into the lane.
I would expect Ga. Tech to match up Iman Shumpert who is of similar size with the 6'6" Vasquez. If GT cannot contain Vasquez, then it is lights out for the Jackets.
2. Foul Trouble
Maryland is allowing their ACC opponents to the free throw line about 18 times per game. But Georgia Tech opponents get to the line a whopping 23 times, which ranks 10th in the ACC.
Also, Ga Tech is shooting just 60 percent from the free throw line in league games. The Terrapins are hitting 72 percent. Made free throws could be in the difference in a tight ball game.
3. Pace of the Game
Maryland is playing their fourth game in eight days and third game in five days due to the snowstorm that hit the DC area last weekend.
I see Gary Williams wanting his club to slow the game into a half court pace, while Paul Hewitt continually pushes his team up the floor.
That excited pace could cause the Yellow Jackets some unnecessary turnovers where they rank last in the ACC at 23 per game.
But if GT can push the ball and get easy buckets they could tire the worn out Terps.
Georgia Tech has the talent to be better than 6-6 in the league with just one road win, but something is holding them back right now. The Yellow Jackets are just 6-33 on the road in the four plus seasons.
Even with a tired Maryland team, I don't see Ga. Tech executing well enough on offense to pull off the road upset.
Other ACC Games This Weekend:
Boston College over North Carolina
Wake Forest over NC State
Clemson over Virginia
Duke over Virginia Tech
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But the big game of the weekend is Kentucky traveling to Nashville to face Vanderbilt. The Wildcats beat the Commodores 85-72 in Rupp Arena a few weeks back.
Kentucky had just come off their first loss of the season against South Carolina. John Calipari's club got arguably their biggest scare since against Miss State on Tuesday.
Back in January, both teams shot the ball very well, especially Vandy who hit 47% from the field. But Kentucky dominated the boards 41 to 22 and nailed 12 of 23 three pointers.
Keys To The Game:
1. Battle on the Boards
Vanderbilt has to do a much better job of keeping Kentucky off the boards. That will be tough for Kevin Stalling's team that ranks only sixth in the SEC in rebounding. Meanwhile, Kentucky ranks first in the conference and third nationally on the offensive end.
2. Defend the 3
The Wildcats had an unusually good day from beyond the arc especially F Patrick Patterson who as 3 of 4. Kentucky ranks 8th in the SEC at 32 percent. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt ranks second in the league, but has to play better than their 38 percent allowed on defense, worst in the Southeastern Conference.
3. Home Court Advantage
Memorial Gym's home court advantage is unlike any other's in the conference. With the benches on the end and the wide open playing surface it can be difficult to adjust for new players. And that is what Kentucky has.
Vanderbilt is 13-0 at home this season.
I think Kentucky breathed a sigh of relief when they got out of Starkville alive with a win. I wonder if a little let down may be coming, but now is not the time to have one facing the second best team in the league on the road.
Other SEC Games This Weekend:
Ole Miss over Florida
South Carolina over Tennessee
Georgia over Alabama
Miss State over LSU
Auburn over Arkansas
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Here are the questions and my answers.
1. The SEC was very weak last year. Most predicted that it would rebound this year. Has that happened? Why or why not?
From a national perception the SEC is better this year because they have a national title contender, Kentucky. Most people judge conference by their top teams and not necessarily top to bottom.
Looking at it top to bottom, the SEC is marginally better. I am watching Miss State on ESPN and announcers are discussing the Bulldogs NCAA Tournament chances. This is likely the best team in the West and they are a bubble team.
I think the rebound will be slow as long as the most important activity at 10 of the 12 schools between the bowl games and the first Wednesday in February is still football. The ESPN contract will should help, but it may be slow.
2. The national buzz on the conference is definitely focused on Kentucky, who have lived up to their preseason billing as the conference's best team and a national contender. Do the 'Cats have what it takes to win a national title? Why or why not?
Kentucky has what it takes to win the national title because of John Wall and John Calipari. Wall can take anyone in the country off the dribble and we all know guards dominate the Tournament.
If they had another sharp shooter from the outside, I would consider them the favorite. That is the weakness that could take them down.
3. In addition to Kentucky, which other teams will make the NCAAs? Will we see any surprises here, i. e., will anyone--barring an SECT surprise--other than Kentucky, the Tennessee Volunteers, the Vanderbilt Commodores, the Florida Gators, the Mississippi Rebels, and the Mississippi St. Bulldogs make it?
I think Vandy is a lock to make it. Tennessee should be in as well. I think Mississippi State should be in as well, but the RPI doesn't like them as much as I do.
Teams like Ole Miss, Florida, and South Carolina need to make a run to get in. Arkansas got hot too late and I think they have to win the SEC Tournament.
In total, I think the SEC gets four teams in.
4. What is the biggest surprise so far this season? Why?
I would say Vanderbilt has been the biggest surprise. The Commodores swept Tennessee and played Kentucky tough in Rupp.
A second surprise might be Kentucky considering they didn't start the season all that hot, but have turned it on and might only lose one game all season.
5. Who is the player of the year so far? Why?
John Wall. He is the best player on the best team. Now the most valuable player is probably Devan Downey. Without him, South Carolina is nowhere near the NIT.
Sound off here or at the Round table host - Garnet and Black.
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Sunday, February 14, 2010
Hewitt's contract is essentially a lifetime contract with a rollover agreement each year he is employed on April 15. To get rid of the 10 year Yellow Jacket coach, Georgia Tech would have to pay a buyout of at least $9 million. (Full Contract)
This is on top of the buyout being paid for former football coach Chan Gailey, who has landed two NFL jobs since his dismissal two years ago, and numerous other athletic facility expenditures.
Now while this season may not be over, it probably feels that way in Atlanta. Even if the Yellow Jackets make the Tournament, history suggests they won't get very far.
Outside of the 2004 run, Georgia Tech has just one NCAA Tournament win in 10 seasons. A NCAA Tournament this season with just one win would hardly suffice the frustrated fan base after missing the last two.
Despite all of this perceived talent, Georgia Tech now sits eighth in the ACC standings with five conference games to go. You can already chalk two of those games up as losses as they are road contests with Maryland and Clemson. Ga. Tech is 6-32 in ACC road games over the last four plus years under Hewitt.
Last year, Georgia Tech was a paltry 2-14 in league play. Their win total matched the number of McDonald's All-Americans on their squad. But there was hope for the future with the arrival of four very talented freshman including many people's player of the year Derrick Favors.
Favors was the MVP of the McDonalds All-American game a year ago and would likely have been a top five pick last year if not for the new rule requiring players to spend one year beyond high school before entering the NBA Draft.
Likely gone after this year, Favors is averaging just 11 points and 8 rebounds per game. Compare that to DeMarcus Cousins who is averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds at Kentucky and doing it four less minutes per game.
2007 provides a similar course where two NBA first round picks were able to lead Tech all the way to a 10 seed and a first round loss.
Watching that first round game led ESPN's Bill Simmons to coin the phrase "clogged toilet" offense watching the Yellow Jackets try to score.
For good measure, Billy Packer described Ga. Tech as directionless. Sadly, not much has changed since that 2007 loss to UNLV.
Ever since 2004, Georgia Tech has underachieved under Paul Hewitt. Ironically, Hewitt signed his new contract just days after that Championship Game run. Even with the 2004 season, Hewitt is just 65-90 in ACC action.
I know Paul Hewitt is a competitive guy who wants to win, but would you feel pressure if the worst that could happen in your job was a $9 million check to go away?
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010
To get some more insight into what happened with these classes, I contacted War Blog Eagle.
Q: Looking back to 2006, both Rivals and Scout ranked Auburn’s class in the top 10. Yet Tommy Tuberville was fired three years later. What happened with this class?
A: The same thing that happened with nearly all of Tuberville's classes: it was gutted by academic casualties and high-profile busts. Six of its 25 signees failed to qualify--only one would ever play a down for Auburn--and included in the remaining 19 were whiffs like five-star JUCO DT Greg Smith, top 100 WR Tim Hawthorne, Elite 11 QB Neil Caudle.
Tubby developed a not-undeserved reputation for finding overlooked sleepers--also included in this class were unheralded future starters like Byron Isom, Mike Blanc, and Zac Etheridge--but in his last few years on the trail, his signees' academic track record and failure to live up to the hype undid whatever good work he and his staff managed in the sleeper department.
Q: Who were the biggest surprises of the 2006 class?
A: On the positive side, Etheridge arrived as a three-star out of Troy whose next-best offer was either Oklahoma St. or (weirdly) Illinois. He would go on to win the starting strong safety job as a redshirt freshman in 2007 and make multiple Freshman All-SEC teams and a handful of freshman All-American teams.
His consistent presence was one of the highlights of both the 2008 and 2009 defenses as he started 33 out of 34 games before possibly having his career ended in a scary neck injury in last year's meeting with Ole Miss.
On the negative side, I'm not sure Auburn fans would have picked any signee as more of a sure thing that spring than Hawthorne, a tall and rangy wideout out of Homewood with gushing approval from both Rivals and Scout who drew raves the moment he set foot on the Tigers' practice field.
But a series of injuries and off-field incidents plagued him, and even when healthy Hawthorne was never able to translate his physical gifts into production. He graduated last December and left without having caught more than 8 passes in a season.
Q: Switching to 2007, Scout had Kodi Burns as five star recruit at QB. Why do you think he has never panned out at the position?
A: Burns came to Auburn as a tremendous athlete with a powerful arm and the shiftiest pair of feet Auburn had seen since Dameyune Craig. But he also needed a lot of guidance honing his throwing mechanics and confidence in the position, and his first two critical seasons at Auburn he didn't get it.
2007 OC Al Borges burned his redshirt using Burns as a Wildcatesque change of pace while never treating him seriously as a passer, and successor Tony Franklin yo-yoed Burns in and out of the lineup while appearing to favor handpicked JUCO rival Chris Todd.
Franklin's midseason departure meant that Burns then had to learn from his third QB coach in two seasons in Steve Ensminger, never any Auburn fan's idea of a quarterback guru. Burns continued to show flashes of ability down the 2008 stretch, but his mechanics and accuracy never developed to the point where he would have been a successful operator of Gus Malzahn's offense.
Now, whether Burns could have become that QB if he's had the right coaching is a matter of some debate amongst Auburn fans. Personally, I think Malzahn really could have done something with him if he'd been around back in '07, but in retrospect it was always going to be dicey and the coaching carousel unfortunately meant Burns's odds were even longer; too long, as it's turned out.
Q: Whatever happened to five star recruits Enrique Davis and Greg Smith?
A: Davis was yet another academic casualty, winding up in prep school (if I remember correctly) after signing as one of Rivals' top 40 players overall in 2007. But the hire of Franklin and the arrival of the spread at Auburn scared him off when it came time to re-sign the next spring, and he went to Ole Miss instead.
Auburn may have actually been better off, as it turns out; as I think anyone who follows the SEC knows by now, he's been a near-total bust with the Rebels.
Smith has become the classic go-to "Hey, remember that guy?" trivia question for Auburn fans recalling the JUCO-heavy, bust- laden late Tuberville recruiting era. Smith arrived on campus after years of hype (such that Tubby dubbed him the "Internet King") and promptly failed to live up to any of it, never rising above the bottom rungs of the depth chart and transferring to an NAIA school (I believe) after a year.
Q: Which recruiting site rankings do you use and trust more?
A: Like everyone else, I default to Rivals. But I tend to think Scout has a much better read on JUCO prospects, and my sense is that a consensus appraisal from all three major services (meaning the traditional two and ESPN) is probably the most accurate gauge of all. I'd trust a recruit's offer sheet before I trusted any of the rankings, though, I have to say.
In terms of team rankings, all three are seriously flawed; ESPN doesn't count JUCO or prep school prospects at all, but Rivals and Scout assign too much weight to the total number of recruits in a class and not enough to the average quality of each recruit.
Q: For an overall recruiting philosophy, how has it changed under Chizik as opposed to Tuberville?
A: Geographically speaking, it honestly hasn't changed that much. Chizik's first class followed the same pattern as Tubby's better ones: a handful of top-shelf in-state recruits, some sleepers plucked from the quieter areas in the state, and then a selection of big out-of-state targets to really flesh out the class.
Chizik's talked a lot about returning Auburn's recruiting to its in-state roots, but I don't think this most recent class has been all that different in terms of demographics than Tubby's first several classes or quality 2007 haul.
However, there's been a big difference between Chizik's first full-cycle effort and Tubby's last couple of classes in terms of the quality of recruit pursued. His last couple of years, Tubby seemed content to only chase after hotly-contested recruits if they were in-state, only leaving Alabama to look for some of his prized sleeper candidates.
This might have worked out OK if not for Saban's arrival and subsequent clean sweep of the state's top recruits in both '08 and '09, resulting in first Tubby's disastrous 2008 group (featuring zero consensus Rivals/Scout four-stars and a Rivals team ranking in the 30s when adjusted in the fall for academic casualties) and a ton of work for Chizik to do when he took over the '09 group.
Chizik, on the other hand, has proven in his short time at the helm to be perfectly willing to challenge for the Southeast's best talent--claiming Trovon Reed out of Louisiana, Jeff Whitaker out of Georgia, Michael Dyer out of Arkansas, etc. It's not different from Tubby in his prime, but combine that with less of a reliance on grades risks, and it's created a huge difference in Auburn's results.
Q: Is the state of Alabama first priority for recruiting or does Auburn like to go wherever the talent is?
A: Six in one, half-dozen in the other. Alabama's presence and natural "state school" advantage means Auburn's always going to have to look out of state (particularly in west Georgia) to sign a full class of SEC-grade talent. But at the same time, Alabama also produces enough talent as a state that between the occasional head-to-head recruiting win against the Tide and prospects Alabama may have overlooked. It's well worth Auburn's while to pay attention to the state's home-grown recruits as well.
Q: Can Auburn truly take all 32 guys from this year’s class or will there be some greyshirts and non qualifiers?
A: Auburn enrolled five signees in January and back-counted them into the 2009 class, but that still means 27 signees left over and two that will have to depart the class before fall camp.
Although this class isn't anything like Tubby's--where you could guarantee a half-dozen signees would be JUCO-bound, if not more--there are three or four players who are rumored (or media-confirmed) to have potential qualification issues. Chizik said in his Signing Day press conference that there was "a plan" in place in the event of extra qualifiers, which I have to assume means grayshirts, but I'll be very surprised if Auburn has to go that route--we always
Q: Which player just signed are you most excited about for next year?
A: JUCO quarterback and former Tebow heir apparent Cameron Newton has the athleticism to take Malzahn's offense from the "very, very good" level to the "utterly sick" level, but until he proves he can throw the ball as accurately as the offense needs him to I'll have to stick with Michael Dyer.
Auburn earned the nickname Running Back U for a reason, and with Dyer rated either the No. 1 or No. 2 back in the country by all three services, there's a good chance he's going to leave school as the latest in a long line of Tiger superstars at that position.
My Thoughts on Auburn Recruiting:
Some people say Tuberville’s last of recruiting over the final few years was his downfall, but I think it was the player development once they got on campus that was the ultimate mea culpa.
It is true that Auburn seemed to shy away from big time, in state prospects once Nick Saban arrived at Alabama, but I agree with War Blog Eagle that Auburn has never recruiting heavily in state.
The Tigers use Georgia as their ‘1A’ in recruiting territories and 2010 was no different landing several prospects the metro Atlanta area and the aforementioned Jeff Whitaker out of Warner Robins.
And some of the great players of recent memory have come from Georgia as well. I sat in a job interview in Cartersville, GA where the manager had one picture of his son and one of Ronnie Brown on his desk.
If this 2010 class can be developed better than classes of years past, then the future for Auburn football looks much brighter than it did at this time two years ago.
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010
That class was the best, but also the last class of the Chan Gailey era. Paul Johnson has come into Atlanta and taken the Yellow Jackets to heights they have not seen since earlier this decade.
For a look back at how the 2007 class changed the Georgia Tech program, I contacted the guys at From The Rumble Seat.
Q: Looking back at the 2007 class that Scout.com ranked 15th nationally, how did this class change Georgia Tech's program?
A: People will forget that this class was actually Chan Gailey's last class at Georgia Tech so we need to give him credit where credit is due. What we'll all remember is how Gailey's players (the ones who stayed at Tech) flourished. Jon Dwyer and Demaryius Thomas, Derrick Morgan, Morgan Burnett, Josh Nesbitt etc.
All these names will make a fan's eyes light up when you mention them. Dwyer went on to become ACC POTY, Derrick Morgan DPOTY. We have All-Americans and All-ACC candidates out of this class...in summary; they helped get us back the national attention that we so desperately crave. This class was rock solid.
Q: As good as that '07 class was it had a few guys who never panned out. Whatever happened to guys like 4 stars Steven Threet, DJ Donley, and Willie White?
A: Steven Threet got screwed big time for his college career. Originally recruited by Gailey, he transferred up to Michigan. Then Rich Rod[riguez] came in and Threet didn't fit in there either so he transferred to Arizona State I believe.
Willie White never panned out and due to injuries transferred to a community college in Kansas. DJ Donley also transferred out of Tech. He went to Purdue but there were some issues with that as well. Basically we lucked out on all three players.
Q: Who was the biggest surprise (good or bad) from this class?
A: Right now this is a good surprise...But I think a lot of us were surprised at how well this class played under a new system with Paul Johnson. CPJ of course, wasn't. He said just the other day to expect the B-back every year to gain around 1,000 yards a year. I think we were just so tired and used to consistent mediocrity that we didn't expect any type of success from anything that had Gailey's fingerprints on it.
Q: The line of scrimmage is very important in college football. How did the offensive and defensive line players from this group turn out?
A: Everyone knows the story of Derrick Morgan and about how he is expected to be a Top-5 pick. However, the defensive line players overall had some big shoes to fill as they followed names like Darryl Richard, Michael Johnson, and Vance Walker who all play in the NFL and it showed. They were very raw this year in their first year as starters. The offensive line grew together this year and still has some holes to fill.
Q: How has recruiting changed for GT since Paul Johnson arrived?
A: We're learning to not care about rankings anymore! Johnson knows what he wants and he goes after it. This 2010 class has only 18 players, 14 of whom are from Georgia and the emphasis was clearly on defense.
Q: What are some recruiting advantages Ga. Tech has over other ACC schools?
A: Academics Georgia Tech will teach you and train you for the real world and companies will see you out for hire. History....yes we have a better CFB history than almost every school but it's just a little older and not as recent! and Paul Johnson
Q: What about some of the negatives?
A: Academics..heck, that's a negative for a normal student.
Q: Georgia Tech sits in a great recruiting area. Is the state of Georgia top priority or do academics force the Yellow Jackets to go elsewhere many times.
A: Like previously mentioned, 14 of the 18 players for the C/0 2010 are from Georgia. So while academics do throw you a curve ball, it is not anything to shy away from. [It is] hard to believe, but there are actually smart football players out there.
My Thoughts on Georgia Tech Recruiting:
Ga. Tech is in an interesting spot when it comes to recruiting because they sit in on the best talent areas in the country (Atlanta), but also sit right in the middle of SEC territory.
Additionally, GT is a smaller school than its rivals with less major options to choose from so the recruiting pool is smaller.
But the state of Georgia legislature gave the Yellow Jackets an unintended bump when requiring all high school graduates to have four years of math, which Georgia Tech had always required.
Paul Johnson has stated from day one that his first priority in recruiting was in state and he has been able to win some battles with the dominant school, Georgia.
But to continue to win conference titles and compete for a national championship, Georgia Tech has to win even more of those head to head battles with the big boys of the SEC. I think Johnson’s scheme and coaching ability can only take them so far.
They did that with the 2007 class that has chance this upcoming season to win back to back ACC titles.
Monday, February 8, 2010
2007 was a little bit of a drop off for UGA, but the Bulldogs still reeled in a nice class led by Rennie Curran who is off to the NFL next season.
To get some more insight into those classes and Georgia's recruiting in general, I contacted Senator Blutarsky at Get The Picture.
Q: UGA had two 5 star guys in the 2006 class in Reshad Jones and Matt Stafford. Where would you rate these guys now four years later?
A: From the standpoint of pure physical talent, Matt was the most gifted quarterback I've seen suit up for Georgia and Reshad would be in the top ten of defensive backs. I think both lived up to their recruiting rankings - but it would have been nice to see what each could have done in their senior seasons.
Q: UGA had only 3 star recruits in above in '06, but who do you think really surprised with their performance?
A: Geno Atkins was the three-star recruit who really stepped it up on the college level.
Q: Who was the biggest disappointment of the 2006 class?
A: [Akeem] Hebron and [Darius] Dewberry never lived up to their five-star billing.
Q: How will you remember that 2006 class?
A: As Knowshon's and Matt's class. The class you wish everyone had come back for their senior seasons.
Q: Caleb King was the headliner of the 2007 class. Does he still have a chance to live up to his high billing?
A: The key for Caleb will be staying healthy for an entire season. It wouldn't hurt if the offensive line stayed in place for the season, too.
Q: Who are some guys from the '07 class that could have a breakout year this coming season?
A: If after two lost seasons, staying healthy and starting all year can count as "breakout", Triton Sturdivant qualifies. In the more traditional sense, I look for Justin Houston to build on last year and really explode in the new 3-4 defense. And if Justin Anderson would play more consistently, he could be a monster on the offensive line.
Q: Alot of teams like to recruit the state of Georgia. Who do you think is UGA's biggest rival for in state talent?
A: Auburn, traditionally. But Alabama under Saban has been stepping it up noticeably.
Q: When the Bulldogs do go out of state, where do they like to recruit the most?
A: Relatively speaking, the Dawgs don't do that much out of state recruiting, but I would say that Florida and South Carolina are the states that get most of the attention when they do.
Q: And with this most recent class of 2010, who are you most excited about?
A: Jakar Hamilton. He comes in as a player with a big JUCO rep at a position of need.
My Thoughts on UGA Recruiting:
Georgia has one of the best recruiting positions in the country being the dominate team in a state that puts out the fourth most prospects. The top three states all have way more than two FBS schools to contend with.
That being said, UGA has allowed many neighboring schools to come into the recruiting territory and steal some of the better prospects. Even Georgia Tech with its recent success has been able to nab a prospect or two. This was most evident in 2007 when Georgia fell down a little in the rankings.
The 2006 class led Georgia to a preseason number one ranking and if the two big stars had stayed one more year who knows what could have happened this year.
Some will blame the 2007 class for the disappointing seasons the last two years, but most of it still has one more year to build a legacy. I think some guys on defense could benefit from the switch to a 3-4 and the offensive line has a chance to build on a great end of 2009.
Thanks again to Sen. Blutarsky at Get The Picture for his insight.
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I discussed that class with Gamecock Bloggers, Leftover Hot Dog.
Q: Both Scout and Rivals ranked this 2007 class in the nations top 10. What made this class so special on signing day?
A: This class caught the attention of everyone due to the number of recruits and it being loaded with talent in skill positions. The class had a size of 31 which will grab the attention of most just based off that facet. Some of the big names were Stephen Garcia, Chris Culliver and Brian Maddox just to name a few.
Some would say that the fact that the class was so heavy on two areas – DBs and WRs made it one to watch. The WRs due to the fact that Spurrier’s “fun n gun” offense relies on WRs that can create and this class had that…on the surface. The class had 6 defensive backs and 8 wide receivers in it. Some called the WR class the best in the nation.
Q: Who were the biggest surprises of this class?
A: Weslye Saunders and Clifton Geathers stick out in my mind. Due to the fact that they were recruited for a position they did not end up playing yet excelled in their new position and will end up in the NFL. Saunders was recruited as a defensive end but proved he is more valuable as a tight end. He is a big boy that can create the mis-match in the secondary and has good speed to go with good hands.
Clifton Geathers was recruited to be on the offensive line yet switched over the defensive side of the ball to be a pass rushing end and has excelled. He decided to leave after the bowl game and skip his senior year to try his hand in the NFL. I am sure he will land somewhere and do well.
Q: What about the biggest disappointments?
A: The biggest disappointment is just how many did not pan out of that 31 number. Some of the kids didn’t live up to expectations and left the program for whatever reason. Just look at the wide receiving class for example; only 2 of the 8 WRs are still playing that position on the team (Barnes & LeCron).
Thus you see this face evidenced in the 2009 starting line-up that was littered with freshman and sophomores due to the fact that the 2007 class didn’t live up to the hype.
Q: Stephen Garcia was probably the headliner of the class. Why do you think he has been so up and down and can he turn it around this year?
A: Simple - Stephen had to grow up. He came in and was viewed as Spurrier’s “gun” to lead the offense to new heights. He is good but he had to learn the system.
Last year, the USC faithful witnessed him growing up before their eyes and began to understand how to be a quarterback under Steve Spurrier.
I really think the best is yet to come with Garcia. He has two more years to play at Carolina and I really do think he will do well. Spurrier has the right kids in now – those that want to be Gamecock football players.
Q: Why do you think South Carolina was not able to maintain this momentum with the more recent classes?
A: I think it is more of what he was left with under Holtz. What I mean by that is he basically had to overhaul the team to usher in his style of play. That takes time and doesn’t happen overnight, especially with the recruiting battles in the south.
Yes, the 20007 class got the accolades but some really good players have come in the last three recruiting cycles. This makes the team very young which we all hope will bold well for Gamecocks chances down the road.
Q: How will you remember this class?
A: Addressing the needs. The 2010 class really addressed the needs of the team on the offensive line, six signees, and will provide depth in key positions. These two areas needed attention and will make the team stronger.
Example, Spurrier has said that possibly 10 of the 23 recruits could play this coming season. Most on special teams but that has been a weak area for SC.
Q: What are South Carolina's biggest advantages in recruiting?
A: The spin you hear is that “come to USC and help Carolina win its’ first SEC East Crown or SEC title…be part of doing things that have never been done.” That is the spin you hear but some of the ’key’ attractions are - the chance to play in the SEC, climate, Coach Spurrier and now the brand new Dodie Anderson Academic Center for athletes.
Q: What about the disadvantages?
A: Recruiting in the SEC and the South for that matter is fierce. Competition for the best kids is tremendous. The big disadvantage for SC is having to go up against UF, UT, UGa, etc. USC doesn’t have the National Championship trophies to point to or lean on like others and that is a factor. So that makes it tough for a kid picking against USC and Alabama.
Q: How important is winning the instate recruiting battle with Clemson? Also, where do the Gamecocks like to heavily recruit outside the state?
A: For USC, job number one is to win its’ backyard. They have begun to do that as evidenced in getting the state’s “Mr. Football” for two years straight. It has helped with the turnover at Clemson in coaching but still vital to win the recruiting battles in-state first.
Lots of credit to Spurrier for changing that because during the Holtz time it seemed that was forgotten. Because let’s be honest, USC does not recruit on a national stage…yet. Most of the kids for Carolina come from the Southeast and specifically SC, Georgia, N. Carolina and Florida.
The 2010 class broke down like this –
-South Carolina: 7
-North Carolina: 3
The two from Kansas were JUCO kids that are originally from South Carolina. So as you can see winning the battles in our in neck of the woods is extremely important on and off the field.
My Thoughts on South Carolina Recruiting:
The Gamecock program is notorious over the years for having some of the most loyal fans in the country, but also some of the biggest disappointments on the field.
Steve Spurrier has raised the level of play in Columbia, but has yet to get over that hump of winning the East Division. To do that, he has to keep the top guys in his state from going out of state or to rival Clemson.
If you look back at 2007, three of the top four Rivals players in the state went elsewhere. South Carolina needs to have more years like 2010 when they grabbed two of the top three, including one of the top running backs in the nation Marcus Lattimore.
But it will ultimately be up to the player development once they get on campus which must improve in Columbia. This 2007 class has largely underachieved expectations that had South Carolina's fans giddy three years ago. It will be interesting to see how a guy like Lattimore pans out three or four years down the road.
Thanks again to Leftover Hot Dog for their insight.
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Sunday, February 7, 2010
But that level of success begins on signing day where Virginia Tech has been able to recruit kids who fit the Hokie philosophy. Frank Beamer usually never has his recruiting class ranked at the top, but he usually has his team there at the end of the season.
To get some better insight into the Hokies recruiting, I spoke with the Virginia Tech blog Gobbler Country.
Q: The 2007 class was ranked 25th and 29th by Scout and Rivals, but that is not a huge surprise since VT does not usually have highly ranked classes. Why do you think it appears VT's classes are consistently under ranked when you look at the on field performance?
A: It's because Tech goes after guys who fit their program and fit the philosophy that's worked for them. They go after hard-working guys and find a lot of diamonds in the rough that way. Tech isn't an elite program yet, so they haven't been able to get the elite players that make headlines. Maybe that will change down the road, but for now there's no point in fixing something that isn't broken.
Q: Who were the biggest surprises of this class?
A: I'd say the biggest surprise is Danny Coale. You look at him and you don't think the guy can be a D1 receiver. But he embodies the "more with less" trend that we've seen with a lot of Virginia Tech classes. He came in, worked hard and became one of Tyrod Taylor's main targets because he just finds a way to get open.
Q: What about the biggest disappointments?
A: I'm tempted to say Josh Oglesby because he hasn't been able to do in games what he's shown in practice. But with guys like Evans and Williams in the backfield it's tough for anyone to see playing time. Instead I'll go with Hunter Ovens. He's a 3/4* guy from Florida who likely won't see the field this year.
Q: Do you think Tyrod Taylor has lived up to his 5 star billing?
A: Not yet, but after the improvement he showed as a junior I think he can do that his senior year.
Q: How will this class be remembered by Virginia Tech fans?
A: It'll be remembered as a solid, hard-working class. A lot of their legacy will be written this upcoming year.
Q: What are some of the recruiting advantages for the Hokies?
A: The coaching staff continuity, playing in a BCS conference, a consistent winner.
Q: What about some disadvantages that causes recruits to go elsewhere?
A: Ever been to Blacksburg? While I love the place, it takes a certain kind of person to be willing to live there for four to five years.
Q: Is there a particular area of the state of Virginia that the Hokies like to recruit?
A: Tha 757. That number designation refers to the area code of the Hampton Roads region of Virginia which has produced players like the Vicks, Tyrod Taylor and a host of defensive stars.
Q: What about outside the state, where does Va. Tech make a second home recruiting?
A: Recently we've been getting a lot of recruits from Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach, Fla. Brandon Flowers, David Clowney and Jayron Hosley came from there. 2010 signee Mark Leal played there.
My Thoughts on Virginia Tech Recruiting:
The Hokies staff is some of the best talent evaluators in college football. You hardly ever here about Virginia Tech reeling in a top recruit, but their on the field success is remarkable, especially over the last six years.
Virginia Tech does have a good talent within the state to recruit, but most convince kids to come to the mountains and Blacksburg. Still, the Hokies have been able to pull many kids from the Hampton, Virginia area an underrated hot bed for talent.
I don't doubt that Virginia Tech will have continued success from September to November over many of the teams ranked ahead of them in the recruiting rankings each February.
Thanks again to Gobbler Country for their insight.
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Saturday, February 6, 2010
To get a better look at this class, I contacted Roll 'Bama Roll for their insight.
Q: Nick Saban was hired in the middle of the 2007 recruiting season. Was he able to hang to most of the class set up by Mike Shula? Did he grab any big names late?
A: Saban held on to his fair share of the Shula recruits, but there was a significant amount of turnover. Saban and company pledged to honor the commitment of any current commitment so long as they did not look around, and while several prospects agreed to do that, many others simply went their own way.
When all was said and done, about one-half of the class would not have signed with Alabama had the Shula regime remained in place.
Q: Who was the biggest surprise of this class?
A: The biggest surprise was undoubtedly Kareem Jackson. He did not get a single offer coming out of high school, and even after a year of military school he still drew almost no interest from BCS conference schools. When he committed to Alabama, even most Tide fans didn't have the slightest clue about him, and more than a few questioned if he was legitimately an SEC caliber prospect.
Of course, though, Jackson started from day one on campus and became a key feature of two elite defenses before leaving early for the NFL Draft.
Q: What about the biggest disappointment?
A: The biggest disappointment to date would likely have to be Kerry Murphy. Most considered him the state's top prospect in 2007, and he spent much of the year with a consensus five-star rating. Unfortunately, Murphy didn't qualify out of Hoover, and once again failed to qualify out of Hargrave.
He finally made it to UA in his third year -- and in all fairness, he has been very impressive at times and still likely has a bright future ahead of him -- but things haven't gone anywhere near like what we expected.
Q: Scout.com ranked this class 22nd nationally, while Rivals.com ranked it 10th. Why do you think there was such a discrepancy and which one got it right?
A: As for the discrepancy itself, who even knows with the good ol' recruiting "experts"? In any event, though, it seems relatively clear that Rivals had a more accurate evaluation of this class. Several signees from that class quickly washed out in Tuscaloosa, and on the whole there have just been very few impact players produced to date.
Rolando McClain and Kareem Jackson turned out to be great players, but only one other player from that class has since became a starter (Marquis Maze) and honestly he has had quite a bit of struggles in his own right.
Q: How will this 2007 class be remembered?
A: Unless a lot of players really step up in the next couple of years, it won't really be remembered at all. Instead, people will just remember that being the class that brought us Rolando McClain and Nick Saban, with all of the real results coming in 2008 and beyond.
Q: Alabama has brought in two top rated classes the last two years. What has changed recruiting wise with Nick Saban entrance to Tuscaloosa?
A: Everything has changed, really. Saban has devoted much more time and effort to recruiting -- and demanded the same of his staff -- and even the camp system has changed under Saban. Truth be told, the recruiting efforts of the Saban regime have nothing in common with what we saw with Shula.
Q: Besides the state of Alabama, where else do the Tide recruit heavily.
A: Good question. Traditionally, Alabama has gotten nearly all of its players from the state of Alabama and Alabama's border states. Under Saban, however, that traditional notion is changing.
We didn't sign a single prep player in 2010 from the state of Mississippi or the state of Florida -- probably the first time that has happened in decades -- but in turn we have increased recruiting efforts on the state of Georgia and have expanded into areas that we have never before had a recruiting presence (Texas, Virginia, Carolinas, etc.).
It's not that we aren't recruiting the old traditional strongholds, but clearly Saban is expanding the recruiting base.
Q: What player are Alabama fans most excited about for the 2010 class just signed?
A: We had a thread on the blog about that the other day, and truth be told most signees were thrown out there by at least one person. It's a very deep class with a lot of highly-touted signees, so realistically you could make an argument for quite a few people.
I would probably cast my stone with either [DeMarcus] Milliner or [Phillip] Sims, but again you could make a valid argument for a lot of guys. For an outside-the-box choice, though, keep your eyes on Chad Lindsay.
My Thoughts on Alabama Recruiting:
I agree with Roll 'Bama Roll that this class is largely forgettable outside of McClain, but it was an important foundation for the past two seasons success.
The arrival of Nick Saban has turned recruiting upside down for the Tide and thus had effects on schools like Auburn and the rest of the SEC.
Saban set out to dominate the state of Alabama in recruiting and did that in 2008 and 2009. Now with the success of national championship, he can go into other states and successfully recruit top talent.
A big reason for Alabama playing two straight years in the Georgia Dome to open the season was to gain a foothold in the state of Georgia for recruiting. That paid off with five signees in the 2010 class.
It doesn't look like the Tide is going to slow down anytime soon on the field as long as they continue to recruit like they have as of late.
Thanks again to Roll 'Bama Roll for their insight.
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Friday, February 5, 2010
First up is Clemson where we take a look back at 2007 class and how it really panned out with one of the top Clemson blogs, Shakin The Southland.
1. Looking back at the rankings for 2007 (Scout 23rd - 4th ACC, Rivals 16th - 1st in ACC) four years later, who has been the biggest surprise of this class?
"The over performer would be Andre Branch, a 2-star OLB who moved to DE and played on par with Sapp and Bowers this past year. Another would be Chad Diehl, a 3-star LB who has become our best blocking FB since the mid 90s. MLB Brandon Maye was a lightly recruited guy from Mobile AL that we pulled in late, and was a freshman All-American, though he took a step back last season."2. Who has been the biggest disappointment?
"4-star WR Markish Jones signed with Clemson out of Broome HS, and never enrolled. He went to Cal anddidnt make it in either, and now plays at a small college.3. Is there a late bloomer in this class with a chance to finally live up to the hype this year?
4-star CB Marcus Gilchrist started at FS this year, but I really think he's underperformed to his potential, as has 4-star DE Kourtnei Brown, who took a Redshirt in 2009 to work on some things. I also thought 4-star LB Scotty Cooper would blossom, but he's buried on the depth chart and hasnt been the same player following 2 knee surgeries.
But really, the disappointment was Will Korn. He was heralded as a Top 5 national QB, and after 2 shoulder surgeries, has amounted to nothing. Now that Parker has beaten him for the starting job, he'll transfer elsewhere, maybe Marshall."
"4-star RT Landon Walker put it together down the stretch in 2009, and if he becomes more tenacious in run blocking and committed in the off season, he could be very good. Gilchrist will move back to CB we believe, so he has a chance at his natural position to finally impress after all the hype that went into his recruitment.
Branch I believe has the best NFL-potential if he works on some technique things, and LG Mason Cloy has the ability to be All-ACC if he recovers from his broken leg."4. We all know how important the line of scrimmage is. Looking back at the offensive and defensive lines for the class, how have these groups panned out?
5. Who is the big recruit that got away?
"This class was heavy in the trenches for us. Jarvis Jenkins will be an NFL draft pick at DT. Branch could be if he works on things, he's mean enough. The rest have been solid contributors along the DL.
Offensively, Mason Cloy will start this year at LG, Wilson Norris redshirted his first year and is stuck behind Antoine McClain at RG but plays a few snaps. David Smith and Landon Walker will share duties at RT with Walker getting the start.
Overall we hit on them as contributors, but none of these guys are real maulers up front. Walker can pass block but not run block as well. Mason Cloy can be good
but he's not an elite talent. These guys are all going to be RS Juniors because we RS nearly all linemen, so this will be their big year to differentiate."
"Probably Ron Gronkowski, TE who went to AZ, declared for the NFL draft early a few weeks ago. Brandon Hicks (FL) and Larry Asante (Neb) both took6. What do you think the biggest attractions are to playing at Clemson?
visits to Clemson and went elsewhere. We offered Carlos Dunlap (FL) but were never really in it for him.
Clemson offered and led for 4/5-star WR Dwight Jones.
However, the AARC (academic board) refused to let us take him because they felt he wouldn't cut it academically.And yet he went to UNC. WTF.
"Nearly all recruits say its the game day and local atmosphere. Clemson is one big family, and while I thought Bowden spent more time praying than scheming or working on football, he did sell it to recruit as a religious, family-oriented place.7. What are some recruiting disadvantages for the Tigers ?
Plus, it was at this time that our West End zone was being constructed, so we had great facilities improvements to sell players."
"I think that the money influx at Clemson hurts us somewhat, though we do a lot with average money when it comes to recruiting, it just hasn't shown on the field (consistently Top 20 by Rivals).8. How important is recruiting in state for Clemson?
We're a smaller school with a smaller alumni base, and it shows in the cash department.
Also Clemson is a small town with little to do, and we have to compete in-state
every year for our share of a small level of D1 talent (though per capita S.C. ranks well).
But if Clemson was winning ACC championships, I think we'd be top 10-15 perennially in the recruiting rankings."
"We have to win our share, but we're not going to sweep in-state often. USC has a large alumni base and great TV exposure and so9. Where are the Tigers "second homes" for recruiting out of state?
they generate quite a bit of revenue. Still, we own them on the field if you look at the history and that does help.
What I believe is that you are born into being either a Clemson or USC fan in this state, and who we fight over every year are those few kids who
have no allegiance to either school.
What we must do is shut off the state to outside schools."
"We generally get a few players from Jacksonville FL because of Swinney's ties to the area, as well as a few from south Alabama when we basically signed zero in the 90s.Shakin The Southland went on to add..."I think if Clemson can compete for its share of ACC titles, and we should be in the Top 3 ACC teams every year if you look at these recruiting rankings over the last 5-6 years, then we'll only continue to make inroads in Georgia and Florida and start pulling in more of the elite level talent that teams like Georgia, Florida State, Florida, and Alabama get.
This year we've pushed hard into Atlanta and have signed the most players from Georgia this year that we ever have in my memory."
But the biggest question is just that: Can we develop them and win more than 7-8 games a year every year?"
My Thoughts on Clemson Recruiting...This Tiger recruiting class was brought in by Tommy Bowden, but will end up coached by Dabo Swinney. Rivals ranked it 16th nationally and the best in the ACC. Scout had the Tigers at 23rd nationally and fourth in the league. I would have to say Scout got it more right in this case.
The non development of Willy Korn was a big disappointment as he was thought to be the guy who would take Tommy Bowden's offense to the next level.
Clemson has a small, but very talented pool to recruit from in state. Per capita, the state of South Carolina is one of the best at recruiting talent. But the Tigers do have to compete with South Carolina and teams like Florida, FSU, Georgia, and Tennessee love to come in and pluck some of the top talent.
The Tigers got four of the top 10 and nine of the top 20 in the state according to Rivals in 2007. If Clemson wants to get to that next level in recruiting they have to do a better job of keeping the top tier talent in state. I think they also have to make some in roads back into North Carolina where they had great success in the 80s and 90s. I agree with Shakin The Southland that recruiting Georgia is a must as well.
But it comes down to what Dabo Swinney and his staff do once they have these players on campus. Bowden could never get these guys to live up to their hype.
Thanks again to Shakin The Southland for their responses.
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