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Recruiting News - 01/21/05

Discussion in '2005/January' started by 3yardsandacloud, Jan 24, 2005.

  1. 3yardsandacloud

    3yardsandacloud Administrator Emeritus

    <font color="#b90000">Friday, January 21, 2005</font> Recruiting News - 01/21/05

    Lemming's Top 100 (1-50) - ESPN PREMIUM

    Friday, January 21, 2005
    Lemming's Top 100 (1-50)

    By Tom Lemming
    Special to ESPN Insider
    With the U.S. Army All-American Bowl over, it's time to update the top 100. There are a quite a few changes and the first one starts near the top. Since No. 2-ranked prospect QB Greg Paulus took his last snaps during the game, I have dropped him from the top 100. Paulus signed to play basketball at Duke.

    While Paulus' gridiron career came to a close -- at least for now, some other players made the most of their week in San Antonio. WR Patrick Turner wowed the coaches and jumped from No. 29 to No. 5. Fellow wideout DeSean Jackson moved from No. 34 to No. 9.

    The wide receivers weren't the only players creating a buzz in the Alamo City. LB Rey Maualuga (No. 31 to 16), LB Brian Cushing (33 to 14) and RB Jason Gwaltney (55 to 21) all made big impressions and big moves up the rankings. DL Roy Miller makes his debut at No 42.

    Only bad decision is putting Stewart on TV (Maurice Wells) - TheNewsTribune

    Only bad decision is putting Stewart on TV

    Last updated: January 21st, 2005 02:00 PM
    Like millions of other high school students, Jonathan Stewart has spent the past several months pondering his options for next year.

    Unlike millions of other high school students, the Timberline senior will announce his decision for next year in front of a TV camera. At 5:50 this afternoon, after another local newscast has provided updates on the traffic (dangerously busy), the weather (dangerously wet) and still more household items that pose hidden risks for toddlers – hey, it’s dangerous inside, too – Stewart, the most statistically accomplished running back the state has produced, will commit to a college on KING-5.

    This means, well, nothing, as high school recruits can always change their minds before the national signing-day deadline of Feb. 2. But the odds are long that Stewart, who reportedly already has settled on a choice between Oregon and Washington State, will go back on his word.

    So KING-5 has an exclusive to tease, which is good for KING-5. Jonathan Stewart has a chance to make a favorable first impression with the nine out of 10 viewers who’ve never heard of him, which is good for Jonathan Stewart. And either Oregon or Wazzu will benefit from some free cap-logo marketing exposure, which is good for either Oregon or Wazzu.

    But I’m not so sure a star-system culture that foists teenagers onto a pedestal in a TV studio is good for college sports, high school sports, pro sports or any kind of sports. The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced the star-system culture – Stay tuned! Jonathan Stewart’s announcement follows traffic and weather! – is the source of every coach’s headache.

    Some of us scratch our heads when the gloriously gifted Shaun Alexander places more emphasis on an individual record than an important game won by his team. Even Deion Sanders had trouble with that one.

    But in a world where a high school student’s nonbinding decision on what college he’ll attend is transformed into the main event on a newscast, can any talented athlete be blamed for putting “me” ahead of “we”?

    Stewart, to be sure, is not the first Washington high school athlete whose decision as to which college to attend has been inflated into a must-see TV event.

    Four years ago, Lakes receiver Reggie Williams’ announcement was staged (with an emphasis on “staged”) by FSN. In a ruse reminiscent of the old “To Tell the Truth” game show, Williams picked up a UCLA hat before putting it down – Ha! Tricked ya! – and exchanging it for a Washington cap.

    The kid had yet to lug his first load of dirty clothes to a dormitory laundry room, and he was performing a show-biz stunt on cable TV.

    No, Stewart won’t be a pioneer this afternoon. He’ll merely be part of a parade: the third high school star named Stewart to announce his college plans on local TV, having been preceded by the twins from Rainier Beach in Seattle, Lodrick and Rodrick.

    They, too, donated an exclusive to FSN, committing to Southern California 24 hours after their father fed an intentionally erroneous scoop to The Seattle Times insisting the twins had accepted scholarships from Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar. Dad’s reasoning? He wanted to prolong the suspense.

    (An adventure conceived in such deceit is bound to have its bumps. Sophomore point guard Rodrick Stewart quit the Trojans in November after averaging 4.4 points and 2.2 assists as a freshman. His brother, meanwhile, seems destined to set a record for Most Head Coaches In A Career. When Tim Floyd takes the position next season, he’ll be USC’s fourth basketball coach in three years.)

    At least we’re not alone. The silly preoccupation with the nonbinding collegiate commitments of high school athletes – the beyond-silly appetite to convert these nonbinding commitments into major news events – is a national phenomenon.

    Last Saturday, something called the fifth annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl was televised on NBC. Ostensibly a high school football game between top recruiting prospects from the West versus top recruiting prospects from the East, the exhibition’s real purpose was to enable blue-chippers to reveal their college plans on national television.

    Raymond Henderson, who before the game had promised to “shock the world,” beat everybody to the punch. The defensive lineman from Oak Creek, Wis., put on an orange-and-white cap with 12:53 remaining in the first quarter.

    “It’s Tennessee, baby!” said Henderson, perhaps oblivious to the notion that it takes more than a defensive lineman’s “UT” cap to shock the world.

    Moments later, Dan Doering, an offensive lineman from Barrington, Ill., smiled for a TV camera.

    “Dan Doering,” Dan Doering said, “is going to the University of Iowa.”

    Third-person references are obnoxious, but not as obnoxious as Maurice Wells’ explanation of his commitment to Ohio State: “I’m going to be a Buckeye,” the running back said, “because they showed me the most love.”

    OK, so a vague reference to the stellar reputation of, say, the university’s physics department might’ve been construed as insincere. At least he could have remarked how cool it is when The Best Damn Band in the Land dots the “i” on script Ohio.

    As for Jonathan Stewart? The 5-foot-10, 225-pound running back was described by an NBC commentator at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl as a combination of Herschel Walker and Walter Payton.

    There’s not much advice this former college freshman can give to somebody already proclaimed as a hybrid of Walker and Payton, but I’ll try.

    That first load of dirty clothes?

    A big box of detergent is way too much. John McGrath: 253-597-8742, ext. 6154

    Big year for defensive linemen on recruiting trail (Jamario O'Neal at bottom) - USA Today

    Big year for defensive linemen on recruiting trail
    By Tom Lemming, special to
    Fans who watched the U.S. Army All-America Game in San Antonio on Jan. 15 saw how well-stocked both teams were with outstanding defensive tackles.

    By Tom Lemming

    In fact, along with the running back position, there are no other positions with nearly as much talent.

    This group is led by DeMarcus Granger, a 6-3, 315-pounder from Dallas Kimball, Texas, who is possibly the most dominating defensive player in the nation this season. He recorded 17 quarterback sacks and 30 tackles for losses. A bulldozer in the middle with exceptional quickness and instincts, Granger is looking at Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona State, LSU and Texas A&M.

    Right behind Granger are three other clones with the same kind of size, speed and strength. Callahan Bright of Bryn Mawr Harriton Pa., was the nation's No. 1 prospect heading into the season. However the 6-2, 320-pound player ran into some off-the-field problems this fall and only participated in half of the season. When focused and channeling his aggressive nature into football, there are none better. Bright has Florida State, Texas A&M and Purdue at the top of his list.

    Jerrell Powe, 6-2, 343 of Waynesboro Wayne County, Miss., showed his exceptional quickness, balance, strength and instincts at the U.S. Army All-America Game and also proved that he can run like a 243-pounder. Powe recorded four quarterback sacks and 26 quarterback hurries despite the fact that he was double- and triple-teamed the entire season. He is committed to LSU. Like Bright and Granger, if he makes it academically, he can become an impact player as a true freshman.

    Ekom Udofia, 6-1, 290, is one of the most explosive big men in the country. The 4.0 student from Scottsdale Chaparral, Arizona, injured his leg midway through the season and missed the rest of the year. However, he did come to San Antonio to cheer on his West squad. USC and Stanford lead in the bidding for his talents.

    One of the biggest surprises in San Antonio was the play of the defensive tackle Roy Miller of Killeen Shoemaker, Texas, who at 6-2, 300 dominated practices and the East offense of linemen during the game. Also during the game Miller switched his commitment from Oklahoma to Texas.

    The top defensive end in the country without a doubt is Melvin Alaeze, 6-3, 275 from Randallstown, Md., who committed to Maryland during the game. He has surprising quickness off the ball, a relentless style of play and a lot of toughness. He has a take-no-prisoners attitude and loves to mix it up with offensive linemen. He also shows a great burst to the ball and can be a dominant lineman next season.

    Defensive end Kyle Moore, 6-7, 250 from Warner Robins, Ga., could not play in the game because of a basketball commitment. However, his 19 quarterback sacks this season proved that he has the burst, leverage and body control to remain at that position in college. Oklahoma, Tennessee, Miami, George and Florida State are still in the hunt.

    The No. 1 defensive lineman in California is Averell Spicer, 6-2, 262 of Rancho Cucamonga. This season he recorded 70 tackles, 14 quarterback sacks and caused five fumbles. He is exceptionally quick, has been timed 11.2 in the 100 meters and is committed to USC.

    The smallest member of the elite defensive linemen is Spencer Atkins, 6-0, 230 from Naples, Fla. He is a super strong, tough, instinctive and remarkably quick end who gets great leverage and comes off the ball like a rocket. He totaled 12 sacks and 19 tackles for losses on his way to earning all-state honors for the second year in a row. He is committed to Miami (Fla.).

    The play of several of the nation's most heavily sought linebackers at the U.S. Army All-America Game showed that this is a better-than-average year at that position.

    For instance, during a break in practice, linebacker Travis Beckhum, 6-5, 220 of Oak Creek, Wis., threw a football 75 yards and then punted one 60 yards, proving what a great athlete he is. Also in practice, he hammered several running backs hard enough to send them to the sidelines. The Wisconsin commitment is the fastest of all the nation's top linebackers.

    Ryan Reynolds, 6-2, 220 from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, Nev., won the Myoplex Award as the most conditioned athlete at the event. He also proved to be a very good football player, making tackles from sideline to sideline. He is a two-time all-stater and an Oklahoma commitment.

    The most physical inside presence at the game was Rey Maualuga, 6-2, 245 from Eureka, Calif. He had a season total of 90 tackles and picked off four passes, returning two of them for scores of 51 and 57 yards. On one play during the U.S. Army All-America Game, he hurdled the center and blocked a field-goal attempt, displaying his remarkable agility, balance and timing. Maualuga has committed to USC.

    The most impressive linebacker in the game was Brian Cushing, 6-3, 220 from Oradell Bergen Catholic, N.J. He showed his lateral quickness, instinct, speed to the ball and aggressive style of play all week. He has the ability to start as a true freshman and will choose among USC, Florida, Virginia, Miami and Notre Dame.

    The smallest of all the linebackers may be the most productive. Tray Blackmon, 6-0, 190 from La Grange, Ga., totaled 150 tackles, 10 quarterback sacks and 20 tackles for losses on his way to earning first team all-state honors for the second year in a row. He's a Tasmanian devil type of tackler who will not stay blocked and has the quickness and instincts to become a dominant college backer despite his lack of size. He is committed to Auburn and the Tigers know they have themselves a future All-American.

    The No. 1 linebacker in the Carolinas is Derek Nicholson, 6-2, 230 from Winston-Salem Mount Tabor, N.C. He is the brother of Florida State linebacker A.J. Nicholson and may have more potential than his very talented brother. He can make plays from sideline to sideline and is known for his hard-hitting style of play. He is also a 3.8 student and will choose between North Carolina and Florida State.

    Although there are some standout players, overall it is an average year for defensive backs. Demetrice Morley, 6-1, 180 from Miami Killian; Bryan Evans, 6-0, 175 of Jacksonville White; and Avery Atkins, 6-1, 190 of Daytona Beach Mainland are three Florida cornerbacks with exceptional skills. Morley is a lights-out cover corner who takes great angles to the ball and shows good range. He returned 12 kickoffs for touchdowns in his prep career and is committed to Tennessee. Evans, a 10.6 100-meter sprinter, picked off five passes and totaled 48 tackles this season. He is looking at LSU, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida State. Georgia and Tennessee lead. Atkins picked off seven passes this season, returning three for scores. He is also considered to be one of the state's top punt and kickoff returners. He is committed to Florida.

    Penn State has been in need of a cover corner for years, and they have got themselves a good one now. Justin King, 6-1, 182. from Monroeville Gateway, is exceptionally quick, with 10.5 100-meter speed, and has been blessed with great instincts and a burst you cannot believe. He is a mid-term grad and should find himself in the Penn State secondary come September.

    Victor Harris, 6-0, 185 from Highland Springs, Va., put together back to back all-state seasons at both running back and defensive back. This season he carried the ball 225 times for 2,345 yards and 33 touchdowns and totaled 22 solo tackles and picked off three passes in part-time duty at free safety and cornerback. He has exceptional skills at cornerback and has the potential to see significant playing time for Virginia Tech next season.

    The nation's premier safety is USA TODAY's defensive player of the year, Kenny Phillips, of Carol City, Fla. He is one of the hardest-hitters in the country, known for his bone-jarring tackles, superior range and smarts. Phillips is rarely caught out of position, but when he is, he has the kind of recovery speed the college scouts love to see. Phillips recorded 75 stops and picked off six passes, returning one for a score on his way to leading Carol City to an 11-1 record. He has already visited Florida State, North Carolina, Tennessee and Miami, and it appears Miami and Tennessee lead.

    The No. 1 prospect in Oklahoma has the size, speed, instincts and range to become a dominating free safety in college. His name is Reggie Smith, and he is a 6-1, 195-pounder from Edmond North, Okla. This season, he totaled 48 tackles, picked off six passes and returned two for scores. On offense, he caught 37 passes for 481 yards and seven touchdowns while carrying the ball 103 times for 772 yards and eight TDs. He returned three kicks for touchdowns and was named USA TODAY's most versatile ballplayer. Smith is choosing among Nebraska, Oklahoma and USC.

    Jamario O'Neal, 6-1, 190 from Cleveland Glenville, is the top cover corner in the Midwest. As a junior, he played alongside Ted Ginn, and picked up quite a few good habits because now O'Neal shows excellent recovery speed, a smooth backpedal and tremendous speed to the ball. He has enough talent to make a significant contribution to Ohio State next September.

    Tom Lemming is a recruiting analyst for ESPN. Signing Day is Feb. 2.

    U-M has solid class in football - Detroit News

    U-M has solid class in football
    Wolverines are rated among top 5 nationally; Spartans could reach top 25.
    By Tom Markowski / The Detroit News
    John T. Greilick / The Detroit News
    Michigan Coach Lloyd Carr's 2005 recruiting class includes three high school All-Americans.

    Less than two weeks before the national signing day for high school football recruits, the University of Michigan is wrapping up a top-10 class. Michigan State could move into the top 25.

    Recruiting analysts agree that Michigan is at or near the top among Big Ten schools. Ohio State and Iowa also are ranked in the top 10 nationally, and either, or both, could overtake Michigan on Feb. 2, the day recruits can sign letters-of-intent.

    Tom Lemming of Prep Football Report had Michigan ranked fourth nationally with Iowa one spot behind. The teams tied for the Big Ten title this past season, and the competition for the top recruiting class is just as spirited.

    "They filled all their needs," Lemming said of Michigan.

    MSU is ranked No. 6 in the conference by Lemming and Bill Kurelic of Midwest Recruiting Report. The Spartans dipped into the junior-college ranks to fill out their list.
    "They always do well," Lemming said. "But they are also under the radar. They want to get well quick. If you do it (recruit junior-college players) one year, it's no problem."
    Fresh off a Capital One Bowl victory, Iowa is the biggest surprise of this recruiting season.

    According to Lemming, the Hawkeyes are right at the top with all the usual suspects -- Michigan and Ohio State from the Big Ten as well as Tennessee, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Southern California.

    "This is the first time," Lemming said of his ranking Iowa in the top five. "They cleaned out Chicago and did well throughout Illinois. They've been so good recently on the field; people are starting to realize that."

    Lemming said it is almost too close to call between Michigan and Iowa for the top spot in the conference.

    Jeremy Crabtree of also has Iowa at No. 5, a spot in front of U-M. He has four Big Ten schools in his top 25, a list that does not include MSU.

    Lemming said MSU has a top-30 recruiting class and could move into the top 25.

    He also said the strength of Michigan's class begins with three high school All-Americans: lineman Terrance Taylor of Muskegon, quarterback Antonio Bass of Jackson, who is likely to move to receiver, and running back Kevin Grady Jr. of East Grand Rapids, The News' No. 1 Blue Chip.

    Lemming expects Grady to make an immediate impact.

    "He will play right away," he said. "(Michael) Hart and (Max) Martin's playing time will go down. He's (Grady) bigger and has great speed."

    Among Iowa's top recruits are linebacker Rahkeem Smith from Willowbrook, Ill., offensive tackle Kyle Calloway from Belleville (East High), Ill., and quarterback Jake Christensen of Lockport, Ill.

    Michigan is still in on at least two top recruits, defensive back Nick Harris of Alexandria, La., and defensive lineman James McKinney of Louisville (Central High). Kentucky and Louisville also are in the mix for McKinney, according to Kurelic, who predicts that Michigan has the inside track.

    Ohio State's class is strengthened by instate recruits, notably offensive lineman Alex Boone from Lakewood (St. Edwards) and defensive back Jamario O'Neal of Cleveland (Glenville).

    MSU did get one of Ohio's top linebackers, Brandon Long of Canton (Glen Oak).

    Notre Dame figures to be left out of the top 25, according to Lemming. But the Irish did receive a commitment Thursday from receiver D.J. Hoard of Kansas City (Rockhurst High), who made Lemming's All-America team.

    "They're doing better than I thought," Lemming said. "Next year I expect them to be in the top 10. It's been a while since they've been there."
    The top three Florida schools -- Miami, Florida and Florida State -- have been conspicuously left out of the top 10. Typically, southern schools wait until the last minute to get their top players.

    Some of the top players still uncommitted include defensive tackle Callahan Bright of Rosemont (Harriton High), Pa., running back Jonathan Stewart of Olympia (Timberline High), Wash., and defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger of Dallas (Kimball High). Lemming said Bright should end up at Florida State, Stewart is deciding between Washington State and Oregon, and Texas and Oklahoma are the front-runners for Granger.

    How they see 'em

    Here is how some analysts perceive the top recruiting classes in the Big Ten and nationally:

    Big Ten
    * Tom Lemming, Prep Football Report: 1. Michigan; 2. Iowa; 3. Ohio State; 4. Penn State; 5. Purdue; 6. Michigan State; 7. Wisconsin; 8. Northwestern; 9. Minnesota; 10. Illinois; 11. Indiana.

    * Bill Kurelic, Midwest Football Report: 1. Michigan; 2. Ohio State; 3. Iowa; 4. Purdue; 5. Wisconsin; 6. Michigan State; 7. Penn State; 8. (tie) Minnesota, Northwestern, Illinois, Indiana.

    * Lemming: 1. Nebraska; 2. Tennessee; 3. Southern California; 4. Michigan; 5. Iowa; 6. Texas; 7. Oklahoma; 8. Georgia; 9. Ohio State; 10. Louisiana State.

    * Jeremy Crabtree, 1. Oklahoma; 2. Tennessee; 3. Nebraska; 4. Texas A&M; 5. Iowa; 6. Michigan; 7. Ohio State; 8. Georgia; 9. Arizona; 10. Virginia.

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