So here it is. Welcome to the first edition of “The AJC Recruiting Mailbag.”
Thanks to everybody who sent in questions this first week. I couldn’t be sure until I put it out there how many of you might participate, so I couldn’t be sure when the Mailbag might start. As it turned out, I received a bunch of queries and was able to go ahead and get it started today.
There were so many, in fact, that I wasn’t able to answer them all. Some I’ll have to get to later and others, well, they just didn’t make the cut. But I’ll do my best to answer as many as possible every week.
Normally the Mailbag will post earlier than this each Friday. But I ended up getting pulled off recruiting to report on the Damon Evans saga at Georgia, so things got a bit delayed. My apologies.
Again, this is one of those endeavors where the success largely depends on the participation of readership. So I want to thank everybody for playing along and look forward to making this a regular feature on the AJC Recruiting Blog. Keep ‘em coming!
Here you go:
Jimmy Cox asks: Do you think the Carver-Columbus coach banning UGA from recruiting the school briefly last year has put Georgia at a disadvantage for getting RB Isaiah Crowell or a few of his other classmates?
Chip: I don’t think there’s any question that situation put Georgia behind at Carver last year, but I don’t believe it will be a factor now. First of all, you need to understand that Carver coach Dell McGee and UGA recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner are good friends going all the way back to their playing days at Auburn. The Bulldogs messed up and McGee made sure they knew it.
But that ban has long since been lifted going back to early last season, and Georgia has been working the school extra hard. Crowell, the top running back in the state, likes Georgia a lot. The Bulldogs offer tradition and opportunity at his position. But it’s going to be a battle for him like it always is for any elite recruit. Alabama, Clemson and FSU are going to fight hard to sway Crowell their way. Same thing with defensive lineman Gabe Wright.
If anything, I’d say Georgia’s recent acquisition of linebacker Jarvis Jones, a Carver alum and transfer from Southern Cal, will have more of a tangible effect on this year’s recruiting than that ban.
Hugh Carithers asks: It appears to me that this recruiting year is shaping up as another case of the rich getting richer, that is that Florida and Alabama will likely have the best classes. Do you agree? Who do you think will most likely challenge them for supremacy, both nationally and in the South?
Chip: For generations, college football recruiting has largely been a case of the “rich getting richer.” The teams you mentioned, and others such as Georgia, LSU, Texas, Ohio State, Southern Cal and Tennessee, are always going to recruit well. It’s a matter of tradition, name recognition, branding, location and, of course, resources. But college football is also a cyclical game. And when you have All-Americans stacked up certain positions, it’s generally going to be difficult to talk another great player into coming in and sitting behind Joe Heisman a year or two. At present, Alabama is pretty flush with talent at a lot of positions. So is Florida, to a lesser extent. Auburn is a team that has recruited really well under coach Gene Chizik and could see some dividends paid soon. Clemson is one that is currently having success selling opportunity. Considering the depleted state of its current roster, I’d say Tennessee has a chance to have a big year, as long as this season isn’t too awful.
Jerry Adams asks: I recently read that NCAA is considering a rule against football offers prior to for a rising senior. What’s the rest of the story? Do you think this may be a step to an early signing period for football?
Chip: Good question, Jerry. I’m not sure just yet. As it is now, colleges can’t offer a football recruit until at least Sept. 1 of his junior year. The new rule — which hasn’t been adopted yet — would delay that 10 months. So if anything it looks to me like they’re trying to push back the whole process.
As you all know, the trend in recruiting has been for schools to accept commitments earlier and earlier. Our buddy Lane Kiffin infamously offered a middle schooler just this past year. But I don’t know how prospects will be able to commit early anymore if they haven’t even been offered yet. So I’m betting this thing gets adopted just for that reason.
I’m going to have to follow up on this with some experts, recruiting coordinators and compliance people, etc., and see where they think this thing is headed. But if it remains unchanged, I absolutely believe there should be an early signing period. And it ought to be in the summer, about now in fact, and not in December as has been proposed. My experience had been that a lot of kids want to get recruiting over with, so they can kick back and enjoy their senior years.
HammerDawg1 asks: I know UGA is in the mix for RB/TB Isaiah Crowell, but I do not hear much about any other RB/TB’s they are pursuing. Is RB/TB a position that needs more recruiting attention, and why wouldn’t a top notch RB/TB not want to come to UGA?
Chip: I think it’s pretty evident that Crowell, a five-star prospect, is Georgia’s No. 1 target at tailback. But it is actively recruiting several other top-notch prospects. The Bulldogs have extended offers to Quan Bray of Hogansville; James Wilder Jr. of Tampa; Malcolm Brown of Cibolo, Texas; Aaron Green of San Antonio; Mike Bellamy of Punta Gorda, Fla.; and Savon Huggins of Jersey City, N.J. Bellamy has committed to Clemson.
Drew Ingalls asks: As we go forward, what are the top prospects GT has signed, and are hoping to sign? Any potential Calvin Johnson’s out there, or more of the same with three-star recruits who will perform well?
Chip: So far the Yellow Jackets haven’t landed what could be deemed an elite prospect. Their commitments are all three-star-rated recruits or less. But they are in on several blue-chippers. Several five-star prospects are seriously considering Tech, including Wilder; WR Kasen Williams of Sammamish, Wash., (a wideout of the Calvin Johnson ilk); outside linebacker Curtis Grant of Richmond, Va.; CB Doran Grant of Akron, Ohio; and middle linebacker Tony Steward of St. Augustine, Fla. In-state stars the Jackets are battling for defensive ends Stephon Tuitt of Monroe and Ray Drew of Thomas County Central and linebacker A.J. Johnson of Gainesville, among others. Land a few of these guys and this could quickly become Tech’s best recruiting class ever.
And I believe commitment Jabari Hunt-Days, a linebacker from Hillgrove, is under-valued as a recruit. In my opinion he is one of the best athletes in Georgia and should probably be a four-star guy. I also think S Darren Waller is better than advertised and OL Trey Braun will be a solid college football player.
maconwhoopiedawg asks: Chip, There’s a lot of talk out of Butts-Mehre about recruiting the “Dream Team” for the class of 2011. Coach Richt and his staff have made some pretty good inroads so far. In your estimation, which players are “must haves” in order for the Dream Team to become a reality?
Chip: Must haves? I’d say at least one of these where there are two at any position: Crowell, of course, TE Jay Rome of Valdosta, DE Drew, DE Xzavier Dickson of Griffin, OT Xzavier Ward of Colquitt County, CB Damian Swann of Grady and CB Malcolm Mitchell of Valdosta. That’s not including players they already have commitments from like Watts Dantzler, Chris Conley and Nick Marshall.
SUhatter94 asks: I hear you are an Entourage fan? What do you think of the new season so far? Any way this show can become great again?
Chip: You’re half-right, SUHatter94 (Stetson alum I assume). I WAS a fan of Entourage. Now I’m just a regular watcher of the show. At least I am now that it has come back from its two-year hiatus or whatever it was. What’s the deal with these cable series anyway? They take so long the characters come back with less hair and bigger guts and it’s only supposed to be the next week in the storyline. But I digress. There has been only one show so far in the new season and I was left again shrugging my shoulders, like I was much of last season. Definitely a downward turn in plot and, clearly, the show has lost some momentum. But I’ve got a simple solution. More Ari and (a fully-clothed) Vince; less Turtle and the little red-headed dude. And I think Sloan needs to be in every scene. I don’t care what the context is; she just needs to be in every frame.
That’s all the time I have for now. I’ll get to more of your questions next week. If they keep coming in at a high rate perhaps we’ll open the Mailbag twice a week. Thanks again.