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December 31, 2001
Rivals100 Recruiting Roundtable
With the new year already upon us, The Rivals100.com Recruiting Network is taking a look at where we stand in the recruiting wars and some of the big stories in the eyes of the national and regional recruiting analysts from the network. The best way to do that is with a recruiting roundtable.
So here's a look at what the experts think when it comes to some of the key issues and stories that have transpired this recruiting season and what's yet to come.
Who is the best player you’ve seen this season?
Burton of Rivals100.com: The
best player I've seen in the country is Vincent Young (left). He's such a
overwhelmingly dominant player. Out West, I really liked watching the Poly kids,
especially Hershel Dennis. I know he's not rated the highest, but I
thought he brought a certain moxie to the game.
Bill Kurelic of MidwestRecruiting.com: Mike D'Andrea is the best in the Midwest, in my opinion. He's going to be one of those special players that people read about for years to come.
Jeremy Crabtree of Rivals100.com: I was convinced that there weren't any better players in the nation other than Chris Davis in Florida, Ben Olson and Lorenzo Booker in California until I saw Vince Young. Vince is just a man on the field and makes the others out there with him look like they're playing against an NFL quarterback. What impresses me the most is that he's so physically developed already - and he's very savvy. The highlight tape on Leon Washington is also one of the best that we've seen in a long, long, long time.
Farrell of AERecruiting.com: In the Northeast it would have to be Will
Blackmon, who is probably one of the top 10 or so pure athletes out
there. He's a shutdown corner, a slashing runner with blazing speed and
quickness and could project as a dominant receiver with his good hands and size.
As far as along the East Coast, it would be Mike Johnson, who is
gone every time the slightest hole opens up. His explosiveness is awesome and he
reaches top speed faster than anyone I've seen this year.
What player has seen his stock soar the most?
Burton of Rivals100.com:
I'd say Darius Connor. He's a
very good football player. His teammate is a good player, too. Keith Jackson.
I remember Lester Towns and Chris McCalister both coming out of
Pasadena several years ago, and I think Connor and Jackson, although they kind
of play different positions at Inglewood, could end up being good enough to play
Bill Kurelic of MidwestRecruiting.com: Jim Kanuch (right) has proved to everybody that has seen him that he's one of the best in the Midwest. Penn State got itself a great player.
Jeremy Crabtree of Rivals100.com: In the Southeast there have been a few guys that have moved up the charts quite a bit. In the Peach State you have to look at guys like Aaron Scranton, B.J. Fields, Patrick Hall and Stephon Heyer. They all had solid senior seasons and proved that they're legit Division I prospects. In Florida a guy like Omar Jacobs has suddenly become a hot commodity.
Mike Farrell of AERecruiting.com: I think Centreville, Va., cornerback Marcus Hamilton saw his stock soar quite a bit this season because he impressed the more you watched him even though he didn't get thrown at a lot. He started out as a mid-tier cornerback (around three stars and in the 30-40 range) and is now closing in on a top 10 ranking. Hamilton has good size and speed, but his instincts set him apart from the rest and put him in line with Durham (N.C.) Northern star A.J. Davis as the top cornerback in the Atlantic area.
Who is the most interesting player you’ve talked to?
Bill Kurelic of MidwestRecruiting.com: Maurice Clarett is interesting to listen to him talk and hear how much confidence he has in himself and his abilities. He believes in himself 100 percent and feels he can do anything on the football field.
Mike Farrell of AERecruiting.com: Jacksonville (Fla.) Andrew Jackson cornerback Leon Washington (left) was very interesting because his area of Jacksonville is not a good one and for him to overcome a tough upbringing to be arguably the best player in the state of Florida and such a fine and polite young man. It's an inspiring story overall. He was always one of the players I looked forward to calling.
Jeremy Crabtree of Rivals100.com: I agree with Mike that Leon Washington is a special player and a special person. He's going to be a success in football and in life. Justin Blalock is also a great kid to talk to, but the award for the most interesting player that I've talked to this season has to go to Malta, Mont., kicker Josh Roberts, who is heading to Oklahoma. What's amazing about him, is that he's a kicker from Montana and he has some of the nation's top programs fighting over him. He lives in Montana and he's closer to Canada than he is an airport. He also has seven siblings and one of the most interesting mothers that we've ever talked to. He'll be one of the guys that we root for in college because he's got such a great family supporting him.
What is the most bizarre situation you’ve seen this season?
Burton of Rivals100.com:
I had a player tell me that he was
going "home" over Christmas break and would make his college choice
while he was there. Obviously thinking I had just called him at his home, I
asked the recruit where his real home was and if there was a phone number I
could call him at there. Well, home to him is American Samoa and there's no
phone in his village.
Bill Kurelic of MidwestRecruiting.com: The Mike D'Andrea (right) situation is perhaps a little bizarre. He simply has not been able to make up his mind between Ohio State and Nebraska.
Jeremy Crabtree of
Rivals100.com: Two words - Notre Dame. Just days after having coaches
sitting in the living rooms of recruits like Larry Dibbles and Travis
Leitko and talking about how great the new staff in South Bend was going to
be and that George O'Leary was going to turn things around, the Irish
were looking for a new coach.
Mike Farrell of AERecruiting.com: The most bizarre situation is when Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln wide receiver Antonio Cromartie reported that he had verbally committed to Florida State and then found out later that same month that he was only junior eligible and would not be able to sign in February.
What team from has surprised you with its success this season?
Burton of Rivals100.com:
I like what a lot of teams out West
have done, but two teams in particular have been outstanding. Arizona is
doing some nice things - they're getting high quality players at key positions
of need. And Washington State is making it happen for themselves. They're
never at the top of the recruiting rankings, but the Cougars seem to be getting
much more than their regular share this season.
Kurelic of MidwestRecruiting.com:
Jeremy Crabtree of Rivals100.com: The one team that stands out as a surprise so far in the Southeast is Mississippi State. The Bulldogs didn't do much on the field this season, but has blown up with an impressive recruiting class and probably will finish in the top 15. I've also been impressed with the job that Alabama has done with all of the rumors of coach Fran looking around at other jobs and NCAA sanctions coming down.
Mike Farrell of AERecruiting.com: Based on a very rough regular season with very little promising to sell to recruits other than the hope of rebuilding, I would say Rutgers has surprised the most. They secured a commitment from the best player in the state (Berkerly Hutchinson), landed one of the top players in Florida (Randy Boxill) and have rounded out their class with some solid players from Jersey and other parts of the Northeast. Boston College and Syracuse have put together very impressive recruiting classes this year, but Rutgers has done well with much less to sell.
What one thing will happen that will shock everybody?
Burton of Rivals100.com:
In the Pac 10, I think SC is
going to finish strong. That won't be shocking, but I like Pete Carroll's
approach to recruiting. How many college head coaches made it out to some junior
college practices to evaluate players in the spring? He's willing to do what it
takes to succeed and they have some decent scholarship numbers left.
Bill Kurelic of MidwestRecruiting.com: At this point I really can't think of anything that will happen that will shock the entire recruiting world. There are things that always shock us.
Jeremy Crabtree of Rivals100.com: All but two teams from the SEC will finish in the top 25 in the recruiting rankings. And I'm going to go out on a limb with this one, but Georgia will finish with the best class in the SEC.
Mike Farrell of AERecruiting.com: One of two things could happen that will shock a lot of people. Either Wayne Hills, N.J., quarterback Chris Olsen will de-commit from Notre Dame to attend either N.C. State or possibly some other school out of the blue. Or Newport News (Va.) Warwick quarterback Marcus Vick will commit to Virginia Tech in late January despite only showing interest in the Hokies over the last few weeks. However, the shocker of the world would be if St. Petersburg (Fla.) Catholic athlete Chris Davis spurned Florida, Florida State and Miami to head north to Boston College to play his college football. It could happen.