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Tag:Russell Shepard
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
 
 
 
 
 
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