Tag:Jeff Driskel
Posted on: November 9, 2011 2:51 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 3:06 pm
 

SEC quarterback recruiting more misses than hits

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Look up and down the depth charts of NFL teams and you'll find five starting quarterbacks from SEC schools. 15% of the league seems like a good number but for a conference that has won five straight national championships and is widely considered to be home to the best football in the country, it's much smaller than you'd expect. After all, one school - USC - has three starting quarterbacks in the league and one was a career backup in college.

In light of the so-so quarterback play around the SEC this year (apart from Arkansas' Tyler Wilson and generally from Georgia's Aaron Murray), the question should be asked: Why can't SEC teams recruit great quarterbacks? There's not a single SEC quarterback in the top 20 in passing efficiency and a signal-caller has thrown for more than 350 yards in a game this season just twice. Twice. They play great defense in the league but that doesn't explain why Jarrett Lee throws up easy interceptions from time-to-time or the position is an open door at schools like Ole Miss.

One reason the league has struggled to churn out good quarterbacks is schools generally don't find many good ones in their own backyards. Tennessee feels great about their (now injured) quarterback Tyler Bray but remember he's from California. Of those starting quarterbacks in the NFL, Matthew Stafford is from Texas and Jay Cutler played high school football in Indiana. Both had solid careers in college but have blossomed at the next level while Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow has struggled to produce at the next level. Is it conservative coaching (or lack of any good QB coaching), systems, too much defense or something in the water? States like Florida have been known to produce a good quarterback from time-to-time but it's just not a strength of the region. In the end, it comes down to recruiting a quality player and there just haven't been enough of them headed down South.

This season for example, Alabama lost out on five-star quarterbacks Gunner Kiel and in-state prospect Jameis Winston. Sure a big time quarterback commits to an SEC school from time-to-time but generally, you don't have top high school players at the position flocking to play at schools in the league. Meanwhile, Pac-12 and Big 12 schools, among others, keep churning out great passers. Increasingly, it seems, the high-flying offenses elsewhere have attracted the good ones and resulted in diminished play at SEC schools. Even when they do grab a big name, such as Florida's John Brantley, things just haven't worked out. Russell Shepard went to LSU with great fanfare but is now a play-making wide receiver as another example.

In the class of 2012, Auburn has the highest rated prospect at the position in Zeke Pike but there are plenty of questions about his mechanics, arm strength and maturity. Newcomer Texas A&M might have the best recruit in dual-threat Matt Davis. In 2011 the Gators grabbed two of the best in the country but we'll see how they play down the road after being thrown to the wolves as freshmen. One of them, Jeff Driskel, is the first consensus top quarterback to go a league school in years. Recruiting is an inexact science - look at powers like Texas struggle to find "the guy" - but it seems like more schools have a QB lab with issues in the SEC.

It's tough to succeed with great defenses but you can't fault lack of skill position on offense for lack of production if look at the rosters and incoming classes. There are plenty of reasons why each school in the SEC has struggled with quarterback play over the years - from development to playing against tough defenses - but ultimately it comes down to recruiting the right guys. There is a secret to success and conference schools have seemingly found it at every position but one. We'll see if things improve going forward but for now, no one is confusing the SEC as the cradle of quarterbacks.
 
Posted on: August 23, 2011 6:10 pm
 

Ranking the decade's top recruiting classes

Posted by Bryan Fischer

When I saw my colleague Jeff Borzello rank the decade's top basketball recruiting classes, I thought it was such a good idea I decided to steal follow his lead and do the same on the football side.

Little did I know what a tough job it was, first sorting through each class and then deciding where to rank each one. It's much easier on the basketball side from a sheer numbers standpoint too, an issue when you're talking about several thousand more players on the football field versus on the court. It's a fun experiment and a good chance to see just how far recruits from each year panned out however.

There's no set formula for determining where each class ranks, it's too hard to compare one class with a great college player like Tim Tebow with one that has several players who developed into great players later in their careers. So, after looking up and down plenty of recruiting lists, are the decade's top recruiting classes by year. Feel free to disagree and complain in the comments.

1. 2003

Top Players: Reggie Bush, Ernie Sims, Greg Olsen, LaMar Woodley, Chris Leak, Steve Smith, Vernon Davis, Dennis Dixon, Michael Griffin, Sedrick Ellis, JaMarcus Russell, LaRon Landy and Sam Baker among others.

The class of 2003 laid the foundation for four national titles at two different schools (LSU and USC). The headliner looking back is Bush who, though his many records have an * next to them, was among the most electrifying players on the field. Leak and Caldwell led Florida to a national title and Dixon was on his way with Oregon until injuring his knee. LSU also grabbed first-round picks JaMarcus Russell, Dwayne Bowe, Craig Davis and LaRon Landry.

2. 2008

Top Players: Terrelle Pryor, DaQuan Bowers, Blaine Gabbert, Julio Jones, Patrick Peterson, Tyron Smith, Marcus Fortson, A.J. Green, Mark Ingram, Terrence Cody, Michael Floyd, Andrew Luck, Jeff Fuller and Corey Liuget among others.

A loaded class at quarterback and wide receiver, 2008 was one of the deepest classes in recent memory and several players are only now wrapping up their college careers. Pryor was the top player coming out of high school and though some people question how he went out, he was nevertheless 31-4 as a starter. It's hard to argue against one of the top NFL prospects in a long time with Luck and Ingram has a Heisman Trophy and national title to his name. With a  strong push from some seniors this season, this class could move into the top spot.

3. 2006

Top players: Percy Harvin, Andre Smith, Beanie Wells, Brandon Spikes, Gerald McCoy, Tim Tebow, Matthew Stafford, C.J. Spiller, DeMarco Murray, Jake Locker and Knowshon Moreno among others.

This class is littered with first-round draft picks and big-time college stars. Stafford the top pick in the draft and Harvin helped Tebow win two national championships before both left with plenty of records at Florida. This also was one of the more balanced classes with plenty of talent at multiple positions.

4. 2007

Top players: Eric Berry, Noel Devine, Ryan Mallet, Carlos Dunlap, Marvin Austin, Joe Haden, Dez Bryant, Tyrod Taylor, Rolando McClain, Lee Ziemba, Brian Price, Aaron Hernandez, Steven Garcia, Brian Bulaga and Joe McKnight among others.

Call this the class of misfits for their share of off-the-field issues but there's no denying this was a group of talented players. The top two guys, Jimmy Clausen and McKnight, failed to live up to expectations placed on them but still put together solid careers in college. Price, Austin, Dunlap and others are part of a great defensive line and Berry was one of the top safeties in the last several years.

5. 2009

Top players: Rueben Randle, Russell Shepard, Garrett Gilbert, Matt Barkley, Trent Richardson, Christine Michael, Cliff Harris, Devon Kennard, Vontaze Burfict, Shane Skov, Aaron Murrary, Dre Kirkpatrick, Manti Teo and Alshon Jeffrey among others.

This is still a class that's a work in progress but you can recognize several of these names on all-conference and all-America lists. There's some great running backs in Richardson and Michael among others and Murray and Barkley have been good, young signal-callers. Some elite linebackers in 2009 as well in Teo, Burfict and even Skov at Stanford.

6. 2005

Top players: Derrick Williams, Eugene Monroe, Mark Sanchez, Rey Maualuga, Jonathan Stewart, Darren McFadden, DeSean Jackson, Brian Cushing, Jamal Charles, Malcolm Kelly, Michael Oher, Doug Worthington, Ndamukong Suh, Colt McCoy and Mario Maningham among others.

Look up and down the top 100 recruiting lists and there were a lot of busts but this year still produced a lot of talent that had success. USC grabbed Sanchez, Cushing and Maualuga among others and they led the Trojans to the best four year winning percentage out this group of recruits (just six losses). Texas also found the winningest Division I quarterback in McCoy and Nebraska got one of the most dominant defensive linemen in years in Suh.

7. 2002

Top players: Vince Young, Haloti Ngata, Marcus Vick, Winston Justice, Tamba Hali, Tony Ugoh, Leonard Washington, Reggie McNeal, Eric Winston, Aaron Ross, Maurice Clarrett, A.J. Hawk and Troy Smith among others.

Not a deep group but a collection of college stars that proved they could beat top teams by themselves. Young is the big name after leading Texas to BCS Championship and upsetting USC in a magical run to the title. Clarrett, Hawk and Smith won a title early on and helped the Buckeyes to years of dominance in the regular season later on.

8. 2011

Top players: Jadeveon Clowney, Curtis Grant, Cyrus Kouandjio, Karlos Williams, Charone Peake, Malcolm Brown, James Wilder, Tony Steward, Stephon Tuitt, Colt Lyerla, Aaron Lynch, Nick O'Leary, Jeff Driskel, Savon Huggins, Ray Drew, Brett Hundley and Jaxon Shipley among others.

The players from the 2011 group haven't taken a snap in college yet but read the fall camp reports and you can see why they're higher than other classes. It wasn't a great year for quarterbacks but there were a ton of defensive linemen that will have an impact early, topped by one of the most dominant players in the country (and athletic freak) in Clowney. Lyerla and O'Leary will play early at tight end and Shipley should have fans in Austin thinking he's a mirror image of his older brother.

9. 2004

Top players: Adrian Peterson, Ted Ginn, Calvin Johnson, Early Doucet, Keith Rivers, Chad Henne, Fred Davis, Marshawn Lynch, Zach Miller, Dwayne Jarrett, Glen Dorsey and Michael Bumpus among others.

Peterson burst onto the scene as a freshman and established himself as a top tier running back. Johnson is one of the most athletic wide receivers in the game (some would call him a freak of nature) and he developed in a run-based college offense no less. Doucet and Dorsey had fun in the SEC and Henne was a successful quarterback at Michigan.

10. 2010

Top players: Ronald Powell, Seantrel Henderson, Kennan Allen, Robert Woods, DaRick Rodgers, Marcus Lattimore, Jackson Jeffcoat, Michael Dyer, Jake Heaps, Tony Jefferson, Sharrif Floyd and Jake Matthews among others.

Also a work in progress, were not a ton of impact players outside of Lattimore, Dyer, Heaps and Woods. The two players at the top, Powell and Henderson, have loads of talent but will need battle others to stay on the field. There's time for this group to rise up the list but for now, they're at the bottom.
Category: NCAAF
Tags: A.J. Green, A.J. Hawk, Aaron Hernandez, Aaron Lynch, Aaron Murrary, Aaron Ross, Adrian Peterson, Alshon Jeffrey, Andre Smith, Andrew Luck, Beanie Wells, Blaine Gabbert, Brandon Spikes, Brett Hundley, Brian Bulaga, Brian Cushing, Brian Price, C.J. Spiller, Calvin Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, Chad Henne, Charone Peake, Chris Leak, Christine Michael, Cliff Harris, Colt Lyerla, Colt McCoy, Corey Liuget, Craig Davis, Curtis Grant, Cyrus Kouandjio, DaQuan Bowers, DaRick Rodgers, Darren McFadden, DeMarco Murray, Dennis Dixon, Derrick Williams, DeSean Jackson, Devon Kennard, Dez Bryant, Doug Worthington, Dre Kirkpatrick, Dwayne Bowe, Dwayne Jarrett, Early Doucet, Eric Berry, Eric Winston, Ernie Sims, Eugene Monroe, Florida, Fred Davis, Garrett Gilbert, Gerald McCoy, Glen Dorsey, Greg Olsen, Haloti Ngata, Heisman Trophy, Jackson Jeffcoat, Jadeveon Clowney, Jake Heaps, Jake Locker, Jake Matthews, Jamal Charles, JaMarcus Russell, James Wilder, Jaxon Shipley, Jeff Driskel, Jeff Fuller, Jimmy Clausen, Joe Haden, Joe McKnight, Jonathan Stewart, Julio Jones, Karlos Williams, Keith Rivers, Kennan Allen, Knowshon Moreno, LaMar Woodley, LaRon Landy, Lee Ziemba, Leonard Washington, LSU, Malcolm Brown, Malcolm Kelly, Manti Teo, Marcus Fortson, Marcus Lattimore, Marcus Vick, Mario Maningham, Mark Ingram, Mark Sanchez, Marshawn Lynch, Marvin Austin, Matt Barkley, Matthew Stafford, Maurice Clarrett, Michael Bumpus, Michael Dyer, Michael Floyd, Michael Griffin, Michael Oher, Michigan, Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska, Nick O'Leary, Noel Devine, Ohio State, Patrick Peterson, Percy Harvin, Ray Drew, Reggie Bush, Reggie McNeal, Rey Maualuga, Robert Woods, Rolando McClain, Ronald Powell, Rueben Randle, Russell Shepard, Ryan Mallet, Sam Baker, Savon Huggins, Seantrel Henderson, SEC, Sedrick Ellis, Shane Skov, Sharrif Floyd, Stanford, Stephon Tuitt, Steve Smith, Steven Garcia, Tamba Hali, Ted Ginn, Terrelle Pryor, Terrence Cody, Texas, Tim Tebow, Tony Jefferson, Tony Steward, Tony Ugoh, Trent Richardson, Troy Smith, Tyrod Taylor, Tyron Smith, USC, Vernon Davis, Vince Young, Vontaze Burfict, Winston Justice, Zach Miller
 
Posted on: March 29, 2011 12:35 pm
 

2012 Quarterbacks to Keep an Eye On

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Columbus (Ind.) quarterback Gunner Kiel is the top quarterback in the nation according to CBSSports/MaxPreps Recruiting Analyst Tom Lemming but there's a lot of football to be played between now and Signing Day. Here's five other quarterbacks - in alphabetical order - who you need to keep an eye out for this year. Each of them has a chance to move Kiel off the top spot and become the top quarterback for the class of 2012.

Connor Brewer (Chaparral High, Scottsdale, Ariz.) 
Height: 6-foot-2 
Weight: 190 pounds 
Committed to Texas

What's to like: Brewer is an accurate downfield passer and works the middle of the field very well for a quarterback his age. He's mobile and though he's not the fastest player under center, he can escape out of the pocket and pick up a first down fairly easy. Brewer has a nice feel of the pocket but it is his quick release might be one of the best things about the Arizona signal caller.

Needs to work on: Playing mostly in the shotgun in a spread-based offense, Brewer needs to work on improving his footwork this summer and fall. After taking a snap, he sometimes becomes a bit lazy and that's when he becomes a bit heavy footed. He's not too balanced when he gets out of the pocket and throws on the run either but he's still maintains his accuracy.



Shane Dillon (Christian High, El Cajon, Calif.) 
Height: 6-foot-5 
Weight: 190 pounds 
Offers from Cincinnati and Ohio State.

What's to like: Dillon is your prototypical pro-style quarterback. He's got pretty quick feet for someone who's 6-foot-5 and is working on refining his mechanics with noted quarterback coach George Whitfield. He's accurate down the field and can throw the ball anywhere but also adds touch with each pass. Unlike many quarterbacks coming out of high school, he plays a lot under center which should be a big plus to several programs.

Needs to work on: He needs to add some weight to his slender frame but that's not as big of an issue at the high school level as it will be in college. He's got a decent arm but needs to work on getting his whole body behind a throw. He could also stand to shorten his throwing motion up a bit and aim for a quicker release. A bit raw at the moment, he needs some refining here and there to make a run at the top spot.



Zach Kline (San Ramon Valley High, Danville, Calf.) 
Height: 6-foot-2 
Weight: 195 pounds 
Committed to California.

What's to like: Kline is probably the top quarterback on the West Coast and the only thing that keeps him from being considered an elite prospect is his height. He has a cannon on his right shoulder and is very accurate on most routes. Surprisingly mobile, Kline can take off down the sideline and keep the chains moving when he wants to but has good pocket presence and isn't rattled if defenders start to close in. Kline also has pretty good touch on the deep ball.

Needs to work on: He has a fairly quick release but still has a bit of a wind-up or hitch in his delivery. At times he will not have his feet underneath him when he throws in the pocket so becoming more compact after dropping back is a minor thing he can work on. He also hasn't met a window too small for him to throw through.



Cyler Miles (Mullen High, Denver, Col.) 
Height: 6-foot-4 
Weight: 220 pounds 
Offers from Arizona State, Arkansas, Baylor, Colorado, Notre Dame, Pitt, Utah, Vanderbilt and Washington.

What's to like: Miles is another impressive quarterback west of the Mississippi with a big arm. Surprisingly mobile for someone his size, he can run the option and get to the edge with his speed. He can make any throw on the field and can seriously wing it down the field. Miles' best trait may be keeping his eyes down the field and withstanding pressure in the pocket before unloading for a big play. Accurate and confident in the pocket, he could be a better version of 2011 Florida commit Jeff Driskel.

Needs to work on: The one pass where he could practice some more is the out route. Though he has a cannon and can throw a bullet 40 or 50 yards down the field, he doesn't seem to be as accurate or throw the ball as hard when he tosses the out route.There's a lot to like about Miles but some work on a few minor things should vault him higher in everybody's book.

Zeke Pike (Dixie Heights High, Fort Mitchell, Kent.) 
Height: 6-foot-5 
Weight: 225 pounds 
Offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Colorado, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Iowa, Louisville, Kentucky, Miami, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, USC and Virginia among others.

What's to like: Pike is one of the biggest quarterbacks in the class and it's hard not to draw at least a little comparison to former Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen when you see Pike dwarf some of his teammates on film. He's a load coming downhill and almost looks like Tim Tebow with the way he carries the ball. Pike keeps the play alive a lot with his legs but is constantly keeping his eyes up so it's not an automatic run if he starts to scramble.

Needs to work on: Pike is still quite raw as a quarterback but there is a lot of underlying talent to work with. He might not have the strongest arm but he gets the ball where it needs to go. His mechanics are not great and he needs to make his delivery much more compact and quicken his release. At this point, it's hard to imagine him playing in anything but a shotgun-based spread offense.



Posted on: February 15, 2011 4:01 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2011 4:15 pm
 

The Class of 2011 Mock Draft

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The recruiting class of 2011 is finally signed and sealed with Jadeveon Clowney's announcement on Valentine's Day. While college coaches have turned their attention to evaluating the class of 2012, their NFL counterparts are locked in war rooms evaluating tape on the draft eligible players coming out in 2011. Of course we wondered, if NFL teams had to select from current group of high school recruits, who would they draft? 

The following mock draft of the 1st round takes a look at where top high school recruits would go based on team needs and draft position. 

NFL Mock Draft with the Class of 2011
Round 1
1. Carolina Panthers
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Pointe HS, headed to South Carolina: The number one player for the class of 2011 also goes number one to the Panthers, who are looking for help on the defensive line. Easily the most NFL-ready of any prospect on this list coming out of high school, some NFL scouts that have seen his tape have said he could actually make the jump to the NFL out of high school. He probably wouldn't go this high however.
2. Denver Broncos
Anthony Johnson, DT, O. Perry Walker HS, headed to LSU: Draft analyst Chad Reuter says the Broncos are expected to play some three- and four-man fronts under new head coach John Fox. Drafting Johnson would give them a tackle that could fit in well in both schemes.
3. Buffalo Bills
De'Anthony Thomas, CB, Crenshaw HS, headed to Oregon: The Bills need help all over the defensive side of the ball and grabbing Thomas provides them with a terrific cover corner who isn't afraid to deliver a big hit. He would boost a unit that intercepted just 11 passes last season.
4. Cincinnati Bengals
Ray Drew, DE, Thomas County Central HS, headed to Georgia: The Bengals need a pass rusher and they can get a very flexible one in Drew. Already 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, he has the frame to bulk up and fit in well at the defensive end spot in either the 4-3 or the 3-4.
5. Arizona Cardinals
Curtis Grant, OLB, Hermitage HS, headed to Ohio State: Grant has great size for an outside linebacker and he could feature his pass-rush skills in an already aggressive Cardinals defense.
6. Cleveland Browns
George Farmer, WR, Junipero Serra HS, headed to USC: Already a polished product coming out of high school, Farmer would provide the deadly accurate Colt McCoy with a nice target on the outside.
7. San Francisco 49ers
Marcus Roberson, CB, St. Thomas Aquinas HS, headed to Florida: It was tough to pass on quarterback Jeff Driskel but the 49ers go for flexibility in Roberson, a speedy corner who could also develop into a safety.
8. Tennessee Titans
Jeff Driskel, QB, Hagerty HS, headed to Florida: Looking to move on from the Vince Young era, the Titans turn to easily the top quarterback in the class. Although he can run well, a strong arm and accurate passing calm any fears the front office might have.
9. Dallas Cowboys
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, DeMatha HS, headed to Alabama: A prototype left tackle, Kouandjio is the best offensive lineman in the class and a no-brainer pick for a team that needs offensive lineman.
10. Washington Redskins
Trey Metoyer, WR, Whitehouse HS, headed to Oklahoma: Mike Shanahan might not know who he has at quarterback but whoever it is will have a very good receiver in Metoyer.
11. Houston Texans
Viliami Moala, DT, Grant HS, headed to Cal: Although they also need a corner, the move to the 3-4 under Wade Phillips will force the Texans to grab the big-bodied Moala to lineup inside next to Mario Williams.
12. Minnesota Vikings
Aaron Lynch, DE, Island Coast HS, headed to Notre Dame: Current end Ray Edwards will be a free agent so the Vikings turn to Lynch to replace him. Given his dominance at the Army All-American Bowl, he would be perfect to have on the opposite side of Jared Allen.
13. Detroit Lions
La'El Collins, OT, Redemptorist HS, headed to LSU: The Lions need some sort of youth along the line and they can grab a future starter in Collins, who did a good job handling Jadeveon Clowney at the Under Armour All-American game practices.
14. St. Louis Rams
Charone Peake, WR, Dorman HS, headed to Clemson: Sam Bradford needs some weapons at wide out and Peake would bring size and speed to the receiving corps.
15. Miami Dolphins
Malcolm Brown, RB, Cibolo Steele HS, headed to Texas: Needing a new running back, Brown should fit in well in an offense that needs a big back to handle the load.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars
Ishaq Williams, OLB/DE, Abraham Lincoln HS, headed to Notre Dame: The Jaguars need to draft someone who can pass rush and Williams can do that from either outside linebacker or defensive end.
17. New England Patriots (from Oakland)
Anthony Chickillo, DE, Alonso HS, headed to Miami: He would provide an instant boost to the Patriots' pass rush after a dominating Under Armour All-American game.
18. San Diego Chargers
Tony Steward, OLB, Pedro Menendez HS, headed to Clemson: He looks like he could be an NFL linebacker already and he should be able to fit in as either an outside linebacker or inside linebacker in San Diego's 3-4 scheme.
19. NY Giants
Christian Westerman, OL, Hamilton HS, headed to Auburn: The Giants have an aging offensive line and Westerman could step in and fill a number of positions at either tackle or guard.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Quandre Diggs, CB, Angleton HS, headed to Texas: The Bucs draft Ronde Barber's replacement in Diggs, who is the younger brother of Chargers corner Quentin Jammer.
21. Kansas City Chiefs
Colt Lyerla, OLB, Hillsboro HS, headed to Oregon: Looking to replace the versatile Mike Vrabel, the Chiefs select one of the most athletic players in the class of 2011.
22. Indianapolis Colts
Hasean Clinton-Dix, Dr. Phillips HS, headed to Alabama: Needing some insurance for when Bob Sanders is out, the Colts grab the versatile Clinton-Dix.
23. Philadelphia Eagles
Aundrey Walker, OG, Glenville HS, headed to USC: Needing help inside, the big body of Walker should help the Eagles ground game.
24. New Orleans Saints
James Wilder Jr., RB, Plant HS, headed to Florida State: With Pierre Thomas likely headed for free agency, the Saints opt to grab an every down back in Wilder, who could also play on the other side of the ball at linebacker.
25. Seattle Seahawks
Matthew Hegarty, OL, Aztec HS, headed to Notre Dame: Pete Carroll once again drafts an offensive lineman in the first round as he rebuilds the Seattle offense.
26. Baltimore Ravens
Jaxon Shipley, WR, Brownwood HS, headed to Texas: The older receiving corps of the Ravens get a needed speed upgrade in Shipley, who is also a very good route runner.
27. Atlanta Falcons
Brandon Shell, OT, Goose Creek HS, headed to South Carolina: The right side of the Falcons offensive line are free agents and Shell has the size to be a right or left tackle to help protect Matt Ryan.
28. New England Patriots
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Carver HS, headed to Georgia: Needing a running back to finally get the ground game going, the Pats turn to Crowell, who can also catch passes out of the backfield.
29. Chicago Bears
Antonio Richardson, Pearl-Cohn HS, headed to Tennessee: The Bears' offensive line was average to say the least last year and they address their needs with Richardson.
30. NY Jets
Lawrence Thomas, DE/OLB, Renaissance HS, headed to Michigan State: The Jets could use Thomas at either end or as a pass rushing linebacker.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers
Tyler Moore, OL, Countryside HS, headed to Nebraska: A versatile lineman, he could play at a number of spots along Pittsburgh's injury-riddled offensive line.
32. Green Bay Packers
Stephon Tuitt, DE, Monroe HS, headed to Notre Dame: Already young and loaded on defense, the Packers grab Tuitt to help bolster the depth up front.
Posted on: February 2, 2011 5:50 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2011 1:44 pm
 

SEC Signing Day: Winners and Losers

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Taking stock of the day in the SEC:

WINNERS:

Alabama:
No surprise that Nick Saban's crew put together yet another huge Signing Day, with the No. 1 spot in the Maxpreps team rankings wrapped up after adding No. 1 offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio to what had already been a massive haul. The Tide pulled in a perfect 3-4 defensive end in Jeoffrey Pagan (pictured) and flipped supremely athletic outside linebacker Brent Calloway back from Auburn (after he'd committed to the Tigers at the U.S. Army All-American game), two major missions accomplished. Top those off with the rest of the Tide's commitments -- including five-star teammates RB Dee Hart and S Hasean Clinton-Dix -- staying securely in the fold, and missing out on Isaiah Crowell (and likely No. 1 overall recruit Jadeveon Clowney ) barely even stings.

Video: Jeoffrey Pagan highlights

Georgia: Linebacker Kent Turene was an awfully nice pickup. But landing Crowell was a seismic development, the one member of the much-ballyhooed "Dream Team" the tailback-starved Bulldogs absolutely had to have. He alone was enough to push Mark Richt into the winner's column, but add in Turene and the successful fending off of challenges for commits like defensive back Corey Moore, and even missing out on Pagan won't be enough to wipe the smile off of the faces of Bulldog fans.

Video: Todd Grantham talks Signing Day  

Auburn: Losing Calloway to the hated Tide stung, and the euphoria of watching Kouandjio announce for the Tigers dissipated quickly as he elected not to sign his LOI on Signing Day, eventually joining Calloway and his older brother in Tuscaloosa. But Chizik got a ton of help for his occasionally-porous defense anyway, inking one of the nation's best safeties in Erique Florence and a rock-solid defensive tackle prospect in Crowell teammate Gabe Wright. The Tigers also wasted no time replacing cornerback decommitment Marcus Roberson with coveted Mississippi athlete Jermaine Whitehead, a Mississippi State commitment. Even without Kouandjio, the Tigers landed a top-10 class that proved their program-changing 2010 haul was no fluke. Still, Tiger fans have to wonder: if they weren't coming to Auburn, couldn't Calloway and Koundjio have gone somewhere other than Alabama?

Video: Gene Chizik talks Signing Day at CBS College Sports , Kiehl Frazier commits , Coaches react to Erique Florence decision

Ole Miss: Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen enjoys pointing out the raw numbers of his team's players and recruits come from the state they share with the Rebels, but it was Houston Nutt who ran away with nearly all of the state's top-ranked talent. Having already secured the signatures of former Bulldog commitment five-star linebacker C.J. Johnson and highly-regarded receiver Tobias Singleton, the Rebels added to their in-state haul by keeping top-100 wideout Nickolas Brassell out of the clutches of the Tide. The battle between Nutt and Mullen on the recruiting trail was more-or-less a draw in 2010, but there's little question who had the upper hand this season.

LSU: The day was unusually quiet by the usually madcap Bayou Bengals' Signing Day standards, but that happens when you have your state on virtual lockdown and that state provides enough talent for one of the nation's best classes all on its own. Simply making sure their commitments (most notably offensive tackle La'El Collins and defensive counterpart Anthony Johnson) made it across the dotted line would have guaranteed Les Miles a successful Signing Day. But keeping Shreveport's Jermauria Rasco (pictured) -- one of the nation's most highly sought-after defensive ends -- at home (and away from Texas) more than made up for missing out on Florida defensive tackle Tim Jernigan.

Vanderbilt:
The Commodores won't finish anywhere near the top of the league's recruiting rankings, of course. But given the limited time James Franklin had to work with, the results were quite impressive. Franklin flipped Virginia Tech quarterback commitment Lafonte Thourogood first thing Signing Day morning and brought in several other candidates for immediate playing time, like Ohio tight end Dorien Bryant.

LOSERS:

Florida:
The Gators, as always, can still boast one of the nation's best classes, and no one anywhere signed a better QB-RB combo than Jeff Driskel and the underrated Mike Blakely. Roberson's arrival was a nice Signing Day surprise, and Will Muschamp and Co. turned away a serious Ohio State challenge for receiver JaJuan Story. But particularly looking at the way their rivals at Georgia and Florida State finished, Gator fans won't be happy about being unable to make up any ground with prospects like Jernigan, Curtis Grant, or Stephone Anthony. Roberson wound up the only new addition on Signing Day, and even he somewhat fell into the Gators' laps after his wild commitments and decommitments to Texas Tech and Auburn. Muschamp will be cut plenty of slack this season after his late arrival in Gainesville, but another class that so completely cedes the limelight to the Dawgs and 'Noles won't be as easily forgiven.


Mississippi State:
How thin was the Bulldogs' final class after seeing the likes of Johnson, Singleton and -- most painfully -- Whitehead decommit? Not one of their 23 commitments ranked among the top 25 at their position, according to Tom Lemming. The Bulldogs struggled going head-to-head with Ole Miss within Mississippi, and came up empty when going abroad for players like Washington D.C.-based Kevin McReynolds, who signed with UCLA. Players like receiver Joe Morrow and defensive tackle P.J. Jones are unquestionably SEC-grade talents, but after such a productive, promising year on the field, the lack of recruiting punch is puzzling.

Arkansas: There's nothing particularly disappointing about the Razorbacks' 2011 class (though watching tight end commitment Chris Barnett sign with Michigan wasn't fun), and keeping home-grown talent like quarterback Brandon Allen and tackle Brey Cook in Arkansas was a bright spot. But when you share a division with Alabama, LSU, and Auburn, "nothing particularly disappointing" may not be good enough to stay in the mix for a division title.






Posted on: February 1, 2011 3:18 pm
 

SEC Signing Day at a glance

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As always, National Signing Day promises to be a seismic day in the nation's most cutthroat recruiting conference, the SEC. Here's a rundown of what you'll need to keep an eye on:

Players to Watch

Isaiah Crowell , RB, Carver (Columbus, Ga.): Potentially the final piece in the puzzle of Mark Richt's "Dream Team" of a 2011 class, Crowell will decide between his home-state Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama. The Maxpreps No. 6 running back and No. 55 player overall, Crowell has all the gifts necessary to make a Marcus Lattimore- esque impact, particularly at a Georgia program desperate for a difference-maker at the tailback position. No recruit at any position at any team in the SEC is as big a "must-get" as Crowell appears to be for the Dawgs.

Cyrus Kouandjio , OT, DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.): The No. 3 player in the country according to Tom Lemming, the 6'7", 290-pound prototype tackle (pictured) might hail from Maryland but nonetheless appears to be an intra-state battle between Alabama and Auburn. The Tide can offer Cyrus to chance to play alongside brother Arie Kouandjio (a redshirt freshman at Tuscaloosa) and are considered the team to beat, but the Tigers have made a late charge after Cyrus's visit to the Plains last weekend.

Jermauria Rasco , DE, Evangel Christian (Shreveport, La.): Les Miles has already put together a stunning collection of homebred Louisiana talent for his 2011 class, but LSU fans may feel it won't be complete without the explosive Rasco, the Maxpreps No. 6 DE and a top-50 player overall. But to keep one of the most hotly-contested recruits in the country at home, Miles will have to fend off a serious charge from Florida State.

Teams to Watch

Alabama:
Few teams in the country (if any) close as well as the Tide, and if Nick Saban can land Crowell, Kouandjio, and consensus national No. 1 recruit Jadeveon Clowney (who you probably know by now will delay his announcement until Feb. 14), Alabama will lay claim to the nation's top recruiting class once again. Then again, even if they sign only one of the three, the Tide's class is so deep already they'll be in the mix for that honor all the same.

Georgia: It's not just Crowell; the Bulldogs are in play for several other major recruits, like Maxpreps No. 4 defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan and mammoth JUCO defensive tackle Johnathan Jenkins, who could have the same impact as the nose tackle in Todd Grantham's 3-4 defense that Terrence Cody once had at Alabama. Putting the finishing touches on what's already a terrific class could prove to be a critical turning point for Mark Richt's Georgia tenure.

Auburn: As much attention as their competition in Tuscaloosa, Athens and Baton Rouge have received of late, it's Auburn that sits at No. 3 in the Maxpreps team recruiting rankings , and the Tigers could move even higher. No. 5 safety Erique Florence and coveted defensive tackle Gabe Wright are both expected to sign with Auburn, and Gene Chizik could also flip Mississippi State commitment Jermaine Whitehead, a prized defensive back. If Auburn can keep Alabama from re-flipping one-time Tide commitment Brent Calloway, their class should rank right alongside their in-state rivals.

The Below-the-Radar Storyline You'll Need to Follow

No one's going to complain too terribly much about Will Muschamp's finish on the recruiting trail, given the limited time with which he and his new staff have had to work. (Not to mention the presence of eye-popping skill position talent like ultra-polished quarterback Jeff Driskel.) But with Georgia and Florida State both poised to bring in substantial hauls, Florida fans still can't be happy about a class that stands at just 16 commitments today, or that Muschamp has added just two players to it since his hire. Finishing with big-time talents like fresh Auburn decommitment Marcus Roberson, blue-chip linebackers Curtis Grant or Stephone Anthony, or defensive tackle Tim Jernigan would go a long way towards soothing any frazzled Gainesville nerves.

Posted on: January 26, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2011 9:03 pm
 

Who could win the Heisman from the class of 2011?

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Now that the deadline to declare for the NFL Draft has come and gone, it’s never too early to take a look at who might be in the frontrunners for the 2011 Heisman Trophy. With National Signing Day approaching however, who from the class of 2011 might one day end up hearing his name called in New York? Here’s five recruits who could end up hoisting the trophy sometime during their college careers (in alphabetical order):

Malcolm Brown

Cibolo (TX), 6-foot, 220 pound running back. Committed to Texas. 

Since Ricky Williams won the Heisman in 1998, Texas has had just two running backs finish in the top ten in the country in rushing (Jamaal Charles in 2007 and Cedric Benson in 2004). That’s two players in the top ten in 13 years. With the Texas offense looking more like North Texas’, expect a healthy dose of Brown as a freshman in order to take the load of whoever will be the quarterback in 2011. Brown hits the hole hard and is a North-South runner. He might have to adjust to the speed of the game and improve his vision after getting the ball but there’s no reason he couldn’t become the next Texas back to crack the national rushing list. He will also have the advantage of having a channel devoted to showing his highlights 24/7.

Jadeveon Clowney 

Rock Hill (SC), 6-foot-6, 250 pound defensive end. Considering Alabama, South Carolina and Clemson. 

Defensive players have had to climb Mount Everest just to be invited to New York for the Heisman but 2009’s push by Ndamukong Suh should have others reconsidering before writing off a defensive player. Clowney is the most advanced defensive end coming out of high school in some time, having the speed, size and explosiveness you look for. One NFL scout told my colleague Bruce Feldman he would draft Clowney in the first round in this year’s NFL Draft. A season where he could at least replicate Suh’s stats in 2009 (12 sacks, 23 tackles for a loss) isn’t out of the question and given the recognition he already has, one has to have Clowney on the list somewhere.

Jeff Driskel

Oviedo (FL), 6-foot-4, 225 pound quarterback. Committed to Florida. 

Being the quarterback at Florida generally positions a player to make a run at the Heisman no matter what you do the season before. With Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator and installing in a pro-style offense, Driskel has the chance to put up very good numbers when he eventually takes over under center. His legs are an asset but he has a very strong arm and quick release. The best quarterback in the class, Driskel has a chance to turn things around at Florida and then take a trip north to New York.

Jerrard Randall

Hollywood (FL), 6-foot-2, 190 pound quarterback. Committed to Oregon. 

Unless you’re a die-hard recruitnik or Oregon fan, you might be wondering who Randall is. A dual-thread QB from talent-rich South Florida, Randall is slated to take over for Darron Thomas eventually. Given the numbers Thomas and his predecessors have put up in Oregon’s prolific offense, it’s no surprise to find Randall on this list. Chris Houston, better known as the Heisman Pundit, has touted Randall as possible Heisman winner and if you watch some tape, it’s hard to disagree. A strong arm and the speed of a fast running back, Randall might be the player who can bring home the Heisman that former Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon almost did.

De’Anthony Thomas 

Los Angeles (CA), 5-foot-9, 165 pound athlete. Committed to USC. 

Being the running back at USC usually sets you up pretty well to win the Heisman. After all, five Trojan running backs have won the award (well, four actually). In the backfield is where Thomas says he will play at USC but he might be better suited in the secondary. With scholarship limits hitting USC over the next few years, head coach Lane Kiffin might choose to play Thomas on both sides of the ball. Nicknamed ‘The Black Mamba,’ he could be a factor in all three-phases of the game in the mold of Heisman winner Charles Woodson.

 
 
 
 
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