Mailbag: Isaiah Crowell’s durability, Tech’s basketball coach and 5-star prospects

mailbag(1)THE MAILBAG:

It’s back. The AJC Recruiting Mailbag has made its triumphant return! OK, so maybe it’s not so triumphant, but it’s here and it’s something to read. At least I hope you do. Anyway, the plan is to run The Mailbag as a regular feature every Friday from now until, well, you guys quit sending me sensible questions to answer.

On that note, thanks to the many of you who sent in queries this week. I tried to answer all of them but I wasn’t able to. Some of the leftovers I’ll include next week and some, well, I’m sorry, but they just didn’t make the cut. Of course, for this to be a successful endeavor I need readership participation. So if you ever think of a recruiting situation you wish I’d address in The Blog, just jot it down in the form of a question and email it to me at ajcrecruiting@yahoo.com.

Chriqui

Chriqui

And remember, your questions do not always have to be limited to college recruiting. I’m open to any topics. Last year, for instance The Mailbag became an impromptu forum for critiquing the HBO show Entourage (and its inexplicable failure to utilize the talents of Emmanuelle Chriqui, aka “Sloan”). FYI, other shows I watch include Modern Family, The Office, 30 Rock, Survivor and Episodes. I tried to get into the new Showtime joint called Shameless but that one kind of lost me quick. As always, I’m open to your suggestions.

So without any further ado, I give you The Mailbag. Now where’s that little thingamajig that opens envelopes? . . .

Tim from Smyrna asks: I know everyone is harping on Isaiah Crowell being the next “big thing” at running back this coming year, sort of like Marcus Lattimore was for South Carolina. I certainly hope it works out that way. However, I’m curious about Isaiah’s durability. Coming out of high school I don’t recall much about Lattimore missing high school games due to injuries, etc. That’s not necessarily the case for Crowell, at least from what I remember reading. To me, durability is vital to a running back’s early success, aside from his ability to understand and implement the system. What has been the general inside consensus on Isaiah’s ability to withstand the prolonged hits high-level running backs take at the college level?

Chip: Durability and the ability withstand the punishment of playing in the SEC is always a question for running backs coming into the league. Obviously, Lattimore passed that test with flying colors as he had 249 carries for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns as a freshman at South Carolina. But even he was unable to negotiate the season without being sidelined with injuries. He was knocked out of the Chick-fil-A Bowl early with a concussion, did not play against Vanderbilt and was limited to only 11 carries against Arkansas.

And while Lattimore and Crowell are similar in terms of high school production and notoriety, they’re different backs in terms of both style and physical stature. Lattimore is 6-foot, 230 pounds. Crowell is generously listed at 5-11, 210. Lattimore grinded it out in both high school and college. He had 284 carries for 1,836 yards as a high school sophomore, 305 for 2,314 as a junior and 260 for 1,898 as a senior. He had 37 carries in one game against Georgia and 40 against Florida. Crowell had 1,915 yards on only 175 carries as a junior and 1,721 on 147 carries as a senior.

Georgia coach Mark Richt has never asked a player to carry the load like Lattimore did. It’s likely that carries will be fairly evenly distributed between Crowell, Ealey and King, especially during the early going. And while Crowell missed four games his senior season with foot and ankle injuries, that was as much a product of Carver-Columbus being much better than anybody else in their region as it did with Crowell being hurt. Coach Dell McGee maintains that Crowell could have played in any of those games if needed.

The bottom line is this: More than 50 schools thought enough of Crowell to offer him a scholarship and at least one recruiting service ranked him No. 1 in the nation at his position. So Georgia is glad it got him. But you never know how a prospect is going to perform until he suits up at the next level.

John Nott of Atlanta asks: (1) The rumor mill is in full swing with who will be Georgia Tech’s next basketball coach. Surprisingly, many of the rumored candidates signed big-time Georgia players in their 2011 class. Chris Mooney (Richmond) signed Alonzo Nelson-Ododa, Anthony Grant (Alabama) signed Nick Jacobs and I have even heard one fan rumor GT may try to pursue Kevin Stallings (Vanderbilt), who signed Dai-Jon Parker. If GT lands one of these coaches, would these recruits be loyal to the school (like Julian Royal is with Georgia Tech) or could their follow the HC to GT. (2) I heard a rumor Jerrard Randall was not going to be able to clear the Hill at GT, and has dropped them from contention. What have you heard from your end?

Chip: First, Mr. Nott, let me confess that I’m not privy to any inside scoop on who Tech is pursuing for its head coaching job. I will say that it should come as no surprise that some of the candidates might have signed players out of Atlanta recently. Having a good relationship with local high school and AAU coaches should be an important criteria for anyone the Yellow Jackets hire, in my opinion. As for players following any of these coaches to The Flats, that’s a little more troublesome. NCAA rules are explicit about signing with a school and not with a coach. And while they can get out of a scholarship obligation if a coach leaves, getting cleared to follow a coach somewhere is not likely to happen. . . .

As for Randall, I’ll just say it has been my understanding from the beginning that academics could be an issue with the dual-threat quarterback from Hollywood, Fla. But I don’t have access to his academic record and am hesitant to discuss that. But I think the Jackets are set at quarterback whether he comes or not. I’ve said before, I’m very impressed with both Synjyn Days and Vad Lee.

SUhatter94 asks: I always hear about all these great football players leaving the state to play elsewhere and how UGA and Tech can’t keep the homegrown talent. But isn’t it true that Georgia has way more high school football talent than the surrounding states (Florida excluded) and that on a percentage basis, UGA and Tech do a good job of recruiting the state? (By the way, Stetson is starting a football team. Look for the hatters on the gridiron in 2013).

Chip: Ding, ding, ding! You’re right on the money, Hatter. It’s a matter of numbers. There are more people living in the 20 counties that make up Metro Atlanta (5.5 million) than there are in the entire states of Alabama (4.7 million) and South Carolina (4.6 million). Georgia’s overall population currently is approaching 10 million. According to Steve Slay, who tracks such things for the AJC, approximately 800 high school seniors in Georgia are going to play college football in 2011. Out of those, about 180 signed FBS (formerly Division I) scholarships.

I don’t have the corresponding numbers for other states but, other than Florida, you can be sure it is considerably less. Meanwhile, Georgia and Georgia Tech can sign only 25 players apiece per year at the most, and at least a small portion of those are going to come from out of state as well. So, as you can see, there is a whole lot of left-over talent for the taking.

The numbers are even more amazing in Florida, where the state’s population is about 19 million.

Crowned Royal asks: My question centers around Georgia and the seniors holding down the spots along the offensive line. Any news on whether Georgia leads for any quality 5- or 4-star recruits to help fill the void when they leave after this season? What about OT John Theus of Jacksonville, Fla.; Vadal Alexander of Buford High; or Joe Harris of Lithonia High?

Chip: The Bulldogs are definitely going to be young on the offensive line after this season as they’ll lose center Ben Jones and tackles Cordy Glenn and Trinton Sturdivant to graduation. But they’ve actually stockpiled a lot of linemen the last couple of seasons. By my count, 13 scholarship offensive linemen will return for 2012 season, including former five-star prospects Brent Benedict and Austin Long.

That said, you’re going to recruit offensive linemen every year and this year will be no different. The Bulldogs do currently lead for Theus, whose younger brother Nathan Theus signed with them in the 2011 class. I believe they have a decent shot for Harris, who likes both UGA and Tech, and a not-so-good shot at Alexander, a Louisiana native who favors LSU over Alabama and Auburn.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs also have offers extended to tackle Jessamen Dunker of Boynton Beach, Fla., who was supposed to be visiting this week; D.J. Humphries of Charlotte; Avery Young of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; Jordan Simmons of Encino, Calif.; and Patrick Destefano of Spartanburg, S.C., among others.

S. Moore asks: I’m a fan of North Springs High School and we played McNair last fall and went against a junior running back who was a stud. I don’t remember his name but he was a Noel Devine type of back but ran with more power. He broke some long runs and even though he got hit in the backfield a lot, he broke a lot of tackles. I haven’t heard anything recruiting wise about him. Can you investigate what his story is? He’s a diamond in the rough.

Chip: The player to whom you refer is Jeremiah Anderson, a 5-foot-8, 172-pound junior running back for the Mustangs. And he did have a big game against your North Spring Spartans. In that game, Anderson rushed for 201 yards on 18 carries and scored two touchdowns. It was his best game of the season. Anderson finished 11th among DeKalb County rushers with 777 yards and four touchdowns and is the sixth-leading returner for this season.

As for Anderson’s recruitment, he’s just starting to get a little attention. “He’s getting mail from quite a few colleges, some Division I and some Division I-AA,” McNair coach Tywanois Lockett said. “If he has the type of season I expect him to have he’ll be recruited even harder.” Lockett said the Spartans return four of five starters on the offensive line and that Anderson’s goal is to rush for at least 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns this season.

In the meantime, HERE’S A LINK TO SOME HIGHLIGHT VIDEO of Anderson at hudl.com, much of it from that night against North Springs.

Tripp Cagle asks: Chip, do you have any update on the injury status of UGA’s T.J. Stripling? Will he be ready to play again in 2011?

Chip: Stripling suffered a ruptured patella tendon in his right knee covering a kickoff in the Colorado game last October and had to have season-ending surgery. He will not participate in spring practice but all indications are he will be cleared for preseason practices in early August, according to UGA spokesman Claude Felton.

MauiDawg asks: Which players do you predict being 5-star players in GA this year?

Chip: Actually, MauiDawg, there is no guarantee there will be even one 5-star prospect in any given year. Georgia produced two last year in Isaiah Crowell and Ray Drew and only one the year before that in Da’Rick Rogers. But I’ll give you five from the state that I believe have a chance of earning 5-star distinction this year. Listed alphabetically, they are Buford OL Vadal Alexander, Harris County DE/OLB Jordan Jenkins, St. Pius DB Geno Smith, Jenkins County DT Jonathan Taylor and Woodward Academy defensive end Jordan Watkins.

RAWDAWG ASKS: (1) Would you say the recent commitments of some of the state’s top running back prospects to other schools is a function of UGA landing Isaiah Crowell in this year’s class, or something else such as getting in on the action too late? (2) Does UGA have “all their eggs in one basket” with Keith Marshall as far as RB prospects go for 2012? Who else might they be looking at?

Chip: I would say a substantial part of it is the “Crowell Effect.” Richt has already said there’s a good chance Crowell will start when the Bulldogs open the season against Boise State in the Georgia Dome. These guys don’t want to go to Athens and sit behind Crowell for two years. I don’t think you can say Georgia was getting in on them late or that it has all its eggs in one basket with Marshall. It’s only March and, by my count, the Bulldogs have offered at least eight running backs, including Marshall, who is clearly their top target.  Four of the players they’ve offered have committed elsewhere: Kenyan Drake (Alabama), Matt Jones (Florida), Kenno Loyal (Auburn) and Justin Taylor (Alabama). That leaves them with Marshall; Beniquez Brown of Florence, Ala.; Jovon Robinson of Memphis;  and T.J. Yeldon of Daphne, Ala. And I’m sure there are several other prospects they’re eying.

Burnett Hull of Covington asks: (1) Chip, I sure would like you to discuss the role that the HOPE scholarship plays in athletic recruiting. Can a kid who is not quite good enough for an athletic scholarship take the HOPE and “walk on”? Seems to me, that would give colleges in Georgia a definite advantage in recruiting. (2) Here’s another one — I know that partial scholarships are possible (and often used) in minor sports like baseball and track. Are partial scholarships allowable in football and basketball?

Chip: They sure can and that’s extremely helpful for Georgia Tech and UGA in sports such as baseball, which operate on only 11.7 scholarships per year. Ron Polk used to complain about it when he was still baseball coach at Mississippi State and it was one of the reasons he went to UGA. But nowadays most states have some form of the HOPE scholarship which, as we all know, is becoming increasingly difficult to qualify for. . . . (2) Partials are not allowed in football and basketball.

99 comments Add your comment

John

March 18th, 2011
10:45 am

Chip – Didn’t some Memphis recruits follow Calipari to Kentucky when he made the move? I was not aware this was frowed upon.

Matthews Dawg

March 18th, 2011
10:47 am

Anteater

March 18th, 2011
11:00 am

Chip – you do a great job.

Matthews Dawg

March 18th, 2011
11:01 am

Going to the Basketball game tonight in Charlotte!! I hope we play for a full 40 minutes!! Go Dawgs!!

Bubba

March 18th, 2011
11:06 am

Re: T.J. Stripling:
I ruptured my patella tendon about 10 years ago, and the thought of playing football a year later is beyond my comprehension. It’s a devastating injury. Of course, I was in my 40s at the time. Ah to be young again. Go, TJ!

RRTDawgs

March 18th, 2011
11:12 am

Hey Chip i heard that Julian Royal may becoming Athens i know Fox has not given up on him Dunker visited Athens on Thursday according to Chad Simmons and had a great visit .

memphisdawg

March 18th, 2011
11:13 am

John Wall had Memphis leading but was also being recruited by Kentucky and signed with Kentucky shortly after Cal made the switch. Memphis did keep two or three highly rated recruits from that class.

dap01

March 18th, 2011
11:25 am

How can durability be questioned for college before the first day at the college?

collegeballfan

March 18th, 2011
11:26 am

On the Tech basketball coach discussion I will continue to push tech to make Brad Stevens at Butler say NO before offering anyone else.

Note this from the Butler website:

“In just his fourth year as a collegiate head coach and 11 years after leaving a business position as a marketing associate, Brad Stevens sits on top of the list for best basketball coaching starts in NCAA History.

Stevens, who owns two Horizon League Coach of the Year awards, has guided the Bulldogs to 110 wins in his brief career, breaking the previous four-year NCAA Division I record of 107 wins set by Everett Case of North Carolina State from 1947 to 1950. He also holds the NCAA three-year record with 89 victories, and he’s second on the two-year list with 56 wins. This season, he’s guided Butler to a 21-9 campaign and the school’s league-record fifth consecutive Horizon League regular season championship.”

The guy can coach. I cannot believe Tech will not make this guy an offer.

Larry

March 18th, 2011
11:32 am

Excellent Q&A!

Thanks!

258DAWG

March 18th, 2011
11:36 am

Big ups for “Sloan”
As far as the dawgs go – get in there, do your thing, and get the job done! eyes on the prize and look forward to bringing home a crystal ball; The talent enough to do it is currently at UGA. put it in your mind and go after it!

Concern of the off season – which WR is going to become the next stud? could it be a “Freshman”

Mean Machine

March 18th, 2011
11:37 am

It’s very dangerous to assume a RB is the “real deal” simply based on high school production and the number of stars by his name. I’m worried that the Dawg Nation has some unreasonable expectations on this kid, and I just hope he can handle the pressure. Otherwise we may be looking at another miss in the long line of “can’t miss” RBs to come through UGA. We’re in deep trouble if we’re expecting Crowell, or any other true freshman to come in and turn this program around. The turn-around is going to have to come from the players already here. But I have to be honest, anything less than 10 wins and winning the SEC, and I will be disappointed.

Blackoutanyone?

March 18th, 2011
11:38 am

John…… The one and done prospects Calipari typically signs require provisions placed on their letter of intent that will release the player from the school if the head coach should leave. Demarcus cousins originally committed to UAB but changed his mind when the school refused the provisions.

North Springs Spartans?

March 18th, 2011
11:47 am

I’m 62 years old with a bum knee and I could have gained 200 yards on North Springs last season. What a pathetic team!

Flatwoods Dawg

March 18th, 2011
11:49 am

Why hasn’t UGA offered Jeremy “Dozer” Daniels from Lanier County? The guy is a 360 lbs lineman from a small school and could be another Kenarious Gates, an underrated guy who zoomed up the depth chart.

Tech fan

March 18th, 2011
11:52 am

Players often do follow their coach to another school, ala Kentucky and their new coach. It would burn you up if that happened for GT, wouldn’t it Chip?

Reginald

March 18th, 2011
11:52 am

Chip, great stuff man. I hope they don’t spread the ball evenly w/ Crowell, King, and Ealey but I agree that is probably what we will do.

Can you take over Bill King’s blog or at least encourage management to replace him. If they really don’t want to fire him just let him write about something else. Maybe cats or something?

D A DoubleU G

March 18th, 2011
11:52 am

Great read Chip!

Look forward to this being a staple of your blog.

GO DAWGS!!!
169 days til kickoff!!!

JB

March 18th, 2011
11:57 am

Chip, this is good work and what we like to read…..

Randall "Pink" Floyd

March 18th, 2011
11:59 am

Chip, there is no basis at all for you to claim Georgia Tech is doing a “good” job recruiting this state. None.

sogadog

March 18th, 2011
12:00 pm

I hope we are not expecting too much from Crowell in year one. Caleb King 5 stars, Richard Samuel 5 stars and Waushaun Ealey 4 stars havent exactly panned out as we hoped. We need to take a hard look at the running back coach this year (McLendon) and if Crowell and the other backs dont develop, we need to make a change there. We have to eliminate the off field problems, critical fumbles, lack of conditioning and lack of production with the running back corp to succeed. If we do, great things can happen.

sogadog

March 18th, 2011
12:03 pm

Oh and whats up with the photo of Chriqui?

Old Dawg

March 18th, 2011
12:04 pm

Chip: If you can run more photos of Chriqui and other players like her the readership of your stories will shoot up quickly!

Thanks!

Reginald

March 18th, 2011
12:07 pm

Anyone familiar w/ Caleb Kind knew he wasn’t a true 5 star. Crowell is a true 5 star. Doesn’t mean he’ll be great in college but he’s a different caliber than King.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

March 18th, 2011
12:09 pm

Chip,

Week in and week out I have a hard time chosing the better comedy, Modern Family or The Office. Just when you think The Office is getting stale the writers blow your mind. Modern Family with Phil playing the “everyguy” type husband, and Cam playing an incredible role as the “straight” guy in the gay relationship is incredible writing.

Question for you: In Modern Family, do you prefer Claire or Gloria? I go back and forth on that one week to week. I gotta give Gloria the edge with the accent, that puts her over the top imo.

Reginald

March 18th, 2011
12:09 pm

1eyedJack

March 18th, 2011
12:10 pm

The talent is there for the Dawgs, King, Ealey, Malcome, Crowell and Thomas. With Figgins plowing the way the rushing attack SHOULD be formidable. Murray can gain some yards with his legs. Will we be able to utilize it correctly? CMR and CMB will be committed to a BALANCED attack. We’ll see.

Crowned Royal DAwg 4 Life!

March 18th, 2011
12:11 pm

thanks Chip!

Flatwoods Dawg

March 18th, 2011
12:21 pm

Tech under Johnson has really slipped in recruiting. They haven’t signed one of Georgia’s top ten prospects and very few of the top 20 since he became coach. That is why Spurrier, Saban, and Cheatnik are having so much success in Georgia.

Sully

March 18th, 2011
12:21 pm

Chip, what is the status of GA SOUTHERN recruiting??

GTGreg

March 18th, 2011
12:23 pm

Woo North Springs! I haven’t been back in a while, but it’s good to hear that there is at least one other fan somewhere!

Cobb Dawg

March 18th, 2011
12:23 pm

Chip: Good news on Stripling. Thanks for providing this forum, and for the good job you do all year long.

GTGreg

March 18th, 2011
12:25 pm

and Flatwoods Dog: I wouldn’t call what Johnson has done compared to Gailey “slipping.” Gailey got Calvin Johnson, and then had that 2007 class, and that’s about it. I’m looking forward to seeing what this coming year’s class will look like.

GT is a 4th rate high school team

March 18th, 2011
12:26 pm

NEGATIVITY AS USUAL

gdawginkalamazoo

March 18th, 2011
12:27 pm

sogadog, I thought we brought in Tony Ball from VT to be the RB coach. I think Ball now coaches receivers? Who was the RB coach when Knowshon was totin’ the rock?

CHARLOTTE DAWG

March 18th, 2011
12:32 pm

The guy nobody is talking about, Boo Malcome, will be Georgia’s most productive back this year. Why? He’s the biggest but still about the same speed as Ealey and he breaks tackles. He also seems to have very good vision and surprising cut back ability.

I’m looking forward to someone at the AJC to write a piece on him!

BYRDDAWG

March 18th, 2011
12:33 pm

Now it’s time to see what Paul Johnson can do with his own recruits! It should be interesting…..

Bullfrogdawg

March 18th, 2011
12:36 pm

You live in Charlotte, CHARLOTTE DAWG?

GT Hulk

March 18th, 2011
12:37 pm

Any players that Wofford or Ga. Southern or UAB are after so GT can go after them?????

CHARLOTTE DAWG

March 18th, 2011
12:37 pm

gdawginkalamazoo

March 18th, 2011
12:46 pm

Bullfrogdawg, good guess on where Charlotte Dawg lives.

Bullfrogdawg

March 18th, 2011
12:59 pm

The reason I ask is that I figured you as one of our fans who likes to talk about the ‘next great guy’, or the ‘guy who will do something big next year’. You proved me correct by confirming you are in Charlotte. If you are in Charlotte, not in Athens at practice every day then there is no way you could confidently make a statement like Boo Malcome being our most productive back next year. He’s never set foot on the field yet, no way you could reasonably assert that. Go BS somebody else, you’re a dime a dozen ‘expert’.

Alphare

March 18th, 2011
12:59 pm

Crowell is not only shorter, smaller, with fewer carries, but also less durable.

OK, even with Crowell in for UGA this season, SC will still win the East then.

2012 Recruits

March 18th, 2011
1:02 pm

Chip you mentioned UGA and GT can offer up to 25 scholly’s per annum. I can remember once in the past 20+ years when GT actually signed that many so your numbers must be wrong by far the majority of times. I know what is theoretically possible but the fact is the school generally keeps its players through graduation and thus only get to sign around 20 per year. Thus, over a five year period we sign around 100 kids whereby UGA signs around 125. Certainly not a level playing field. It would be nice if Tech avoided integrity and simply run off the weaker players but I also understand character stands for more than winning some game.

Bright Dawg

March 18th, 2011
1:03 pm

gdawginkalamazoo, I bet you live in Houston?

Bright Dawg

March 18th, 2011
1:08 pm

2012: Yep, GT loses because it has higher ethical standards than other schools. Enjoy the righteous indignation, again, next season. It’s all you have, real or imagined.

gdawginkalamazoo

March 18th, 2011
1:10 pm

Bright Dawg, since kalamazoo doesn’t exist you nailed it. Dang.

Bullfrogdawg, for all we know Charlotte Dawg could be Malcome’s brother.

Buzzzed

March 18th, 2011
1:13 pm

I can’t believe that more info is not leaking out about what is going on with the GT Bball hire. Some people can really keep a secret apparently.

gdawginkalamazoo

March 18th, 2011
1:14 pm

Buzzzed, probably waiting for some certain team to exit the tourney. Which might be a good thing.

Bullfrogdawg

March 18th, 2011
1:21 pm

gadawginkalamazoo. I can with 90% certainty assure you that Charlotte Dawg is not Boo Malcome’s brother. What are you wanting to do here? Have an ‘asinine-statement off”?