NCF On The Trail: 092713 mailbag

Big 12 recruiting mailbag

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
11:00
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This week’s Big 12 mailbag focuses on Texas Tech’s class and underrated prospects committed and uncommitted to conference schools. It also discusses some of the tangibles seen from coaches in a Big 12 wide receiver. We encourage all to send questions each week, either via Twitter to @DamonSayles or @ESPNWilkerson or by email at dsaylesespn@gmail.com or wilkerson.espn@gmail.com.

From @taylormidkiff: Who is the most underrated prospect that a Big 12 team will end up getting?

I think that can be answered in two ways. There are a few underrated prospects already committed to a Big 12 program, but running back Traevohn Wrench (Gardner, Kan./Gardner-Edgerton) will be one to watch next year at Kansas. Wrench has been a 2,000-yard back since his sophomore year and is on pace to pass Bubba Starling this season for career rushing yards at the high school. As for the uncommitted underrated prospects of the world, if wide receiver Del’Michael High (Mesquite, Texas/Horn) can get things right academically, he will be every bit as good as any of the ESPN 300 receivers, top to bottom. High, at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, does so much on raw talent alone; coaching from the Big 12 level could make him an all-conference player as a sophomore.

[+] EnlargeNick Watkins
William Wilkerson/ESPN.comESPN 300 cornerback Nick Watkins is still wide open in his recruiting which could help some Big 12 teams.
From PJ Worthen: What are the chances Tech finishes with a top 25 class? After getting Connor Wilson to flip his commit, is Sam Sizelove to follow? What big name recruits have Tech on their radar? Thanks for the time, I enjoy your work!

Thanks for the comments, first of all. Texas Tech is ranked No. 31 in the latest ESPN class rankings. The Red Raiders will need a couple of ESPN 300 commits -- or see some of the teams ahead of it lose some big-name pledges -- to crack the top 25. Texas Tech has 20 commits, which means there’s still room to land some highly ranked players. If the Red Raiders can continue to stay undefeated, they might turn the heads of players still wide open in the process -- such as ESPN 300 cornerback Nick Watkins (Dallas/Bishop Dunne), four-star running back Corey Avery (Dallas/Carter) and high three-star safety Payton Hendrix (Dallas/Bishop Dunne). As for Sizelove (Argyle, Texas/Argyle), he’s said on multiple occasions that he’s still solid with Kansas State -- but the idea of playing with high school teammates Wilson and four-star receiver Ian Sadler is very intriguing.

From @bryantwing: Does Texas have a legitimate chance of reviving their season and win the Big 12? Why or why not?

The losses to BYU and Ole Miss will be short-lived if the Longhorns can score a win against Oklahoma on Oct. 12. The Red River Rivalry is considered by some as the end-all, be-all for Texas’ season. Currently, the Longhorns are undefeated in Big 12 play, and if they can beat the Sooners, they will have the confidence to take out anyone in the conference. If they take a bad loss to Oklahoma, questions about beating TCU, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor will begin to spread.

From @dmiller37: Do you see RB/WR Justyn Oliphant (Mesquite, Texas/Horn) fitting into a Big 12 program and which one?

Through four games, Oliphant has 49 rushes for 286 yards. He’s still looking for his first offer, but his seven touchdowns show he can get the job done when his number’s called. He’s not the biggest player at 5-8 and 170 pounds, but he has similar physical qualities as Iowa State running back James White. Although the Cyclones have two big, three-star backs committed in 6-0, 196-pound Tommy Mister (Chicago/St. Rita) and 6-0, 200-pound Martinez Syria (Houston/Nimitz), Oliphant would make for a nice change-of-pace back for the program, someone who also can line up as a slot receiver.

From @AdidasKing5: What kind of receivers fit in well in the big 12

In short, coaches want playmakers. They want receivers who specialize in results. Size, speed and agility preferences differ with every coach, but all coaches will agree that they want a reliable option to the passing game and someone who scores touchdowns or puts them in great position to score, runs great routes and won’t drop passes. Coaches want receivers who will make the lives of opposing defensive backs miserable. There’s still time for uncommitted receivers to make a name for themselves, but the window closes each week.

From @cody_winning: Which Big 12 team is performing the best in terms of recruiting nationally?

If you’re talking about how teams are performing on the field with past recruits, you’ve got to look at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys look really good right now, but Baylor is looking equally dangerous. Both have solid 2014 classes that will only enhance what’s been done. As for the Big 12 team with the top 2014 recruiting class, you have to look at the Texas Longhorns. With seven ESPN 300 commits, the Longhorns have a top-10 class, and they could land one or two more big names. Defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) and safety Edwin Freeman (Arlington, Texas/Bowie), two ESPN 300 players, are among the players still very high on Texas.

SEC recruiting mailbag

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
11:00
AM ET
It’s time to dip into the SEC recruiting mailbag and answer your questions. Because of the amount of questions we’ve received, we won’t be able to get to all of them today -- but we encourage you to ask again next week by tweeting your questions to @DerekTysonESPN or @HamiltonESPN and use the hashtag #SECRecruiting.

@UTSportsAction: Are the #SEC schools recruiting in states that are not known for football... #DiamondInTheRough

Derek Tyson: There is no question that several SEC schools are willing to go anywhere to get top recruits, but for the most part, SEC schools stick within the usual southern states to fill out a majority of their recruiting class. Alabama signed quarterback Cooper Bateman from Utah last year, but Bateman was one of the most highly rated quarterbacks in the country and would have been highly recruited no matter where he lived. This year, however, Florida has a commitment from four-star defensive end Taven Bryan from Wyoming. He's the first person the Gators have ever landed from the state. Ole Miss has a commitment from kicker Will Gleeson, who is from Australia. As for a diamond in the rough, I believe Bryan could be that player. He's a physical defensive end that has a lot of upside.


@SportsNewsTN: Who in ESPN's Top 300 is #TENN's Butch Jones going after to help finish out their 30 total recruits?

DT: Tennessee still has a shot a few different ESPN 300 members. Defensive tackle Garrald McDowell (Covington, La./Covington) named the Vols in his top four along with Arkansas, LSU and Ole Miss on Thursday. Wide receiver Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn./Station Camp), wide receivers Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman) and Braxton Berrios (Raleigh, N.C./Leesville), running back Derrell Scott (Havelock, N.C./Havelock) and linebacker Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South) are all planning to visit Tennessee next weekend. There is still a long way to go until signing day, and some recruits might wait to see how Tennessee's season plays out, but in the end I think the Vols will end up with at least two of these players, if not more.


@will_hartley21: Who do you think will turn out to be Florida's top DB recruit? Also what other top DB's will possibly be the next UF commit?

DT: Based on their current defensive back commitments J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee), Duke Dawson (Cross City, Fla./Dixie County), Quincy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School) and Chris Lammons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation), I believe Lammons could be the best prospect, but not by much. They all have their own unique skill sets and are all solid additions to Florida's class, but Lammons has that big-play ability that you are looking for in a defensive back. Come signing day, my answer could be very different. The Gators have a great shot at landing safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) and are in the mix for Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra). As far as who could be the next DB to commit. I'd say Adams would be most likely.


@guru1039: What are the chances Bo Scarbrough decommits from Bama? Is it true he wants to be an RB in college?

DT: I spoke with Scarbrough a few weeks ago and he claims he doesn't care where he plays, but from everything I've heard and seen with my own eyes, it does appear that he wants to play running back in college. Though committed to Alabama, he is planning to take all five official visits, including trips to Florida, UCLA, Notre Dame and Georgia. Alabama likes Scarbrough's size and athletic ability to play linebacker, and that could be something that Scarbrough is considering, but it does appear he is keeping his options open. His recruitment will continue on for some time.

Pac-12 recruiting mailbag

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
11:00
AM ET
Pac-12 recruiting coordinator Erik McKinney answers reader questions in his mailbag every week. Have a Pac-12 recruiting question of your own? Submit it via Twitter @EMcKinneyESPN or via e-mail at erik.mckinney@gmail.com


Babyyao23: You didn't list Joe Mixon visiting Washington this weekend as one of your Top P-12 storylines. I'd have to think that's BIG."


[+] EnlargeJoe Mixon
Tom Hauck for Student SportsWashington has some work to do to impress ESPN 300 RB Joe Mixon.
ESPN 300 running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) announced his official visit to Washington late Wednesday, and it definitely is big for the Huskies. Mixon released his top five list a while ago, but it appears there is some wiggle room in that group, which consisted of Cal, Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon and Wisconsin. Since then, Mixon has scheduled this official visit to Washington and also given the impression that UCLA is still very much in the mix. It's not a surprise to see Washington back in the picture for Mixon, as the Huskies coaches recruit as well as any in the conference and they have plenty to sell to Mixon, as tailback Bishop Sankey has rushed for 446 yards in only three games. Washington will need to make up some ground on the schools Mixon listed as his top five, but the atmosphere this weekend should help in that regard, and a big win could get the Huskies seriously in the discussion.


Via e-mail: "With former quarterbacks Derek Anderson, Sean Canfield, Matt Moore of recent years playing in the NFL, it would seem that Mike Riley of Oregon State would be a preferred destination for high school quarterbacks wishing to develop their skills and play in the NFL. Current quarterback Sean Mannion leads the NCAA in passing yardage and touchdowns. Backup quarterback Cody Vaz has developed so well that he could easily have been the Beavers quarterback or play for any other college in the nation.


Do any other coaches approach Riley's consistent success with the development of quarterbacks?"

 

Even though prolonged NFL success hasn't been there for the three guys mentioned -- two backups and one free agent -- it definitely speaks volumes that Riley was able to get all three to that level. I wouldn't put Riley at the head of the class in terms of quarterback developers, simply because there are so many good ones out there. But Riley is going to get his share of quarterback recruits -- that statement backed up by the fact that there are three potential quarterbacks already committed in the 2014 class. Look for the other Pac-12 programs to make it difficult for Oregon State to keep them.


The biggest problem for the Beavers this year was that season-opening loss to Eastern Washington. That killed any national momentum they gained from a very impressive 2012 season. Oregon State will always have difficulty in grabbing the top quarterback talent in the nation, unless they can flip places in the Top 25 with Oregon. But recruits are definitely taking notice of the aerial assault happening in Corvallis, and quarterbacks and wide receivers alike are giving the Beavers more of a look these days. If the numbers continue the way they are -- especially with two wide receivers each year putting up huge statistics -- Oregon State is going to start getting some big-name recruits.

Big Ten recruiting mailbag

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
11:00
AM ET
It’s time to dip into the Big Ten recruiting mailbag and answer some of your questions. We’ll try to give everyone a chance to get their questions answered. We encourage you to send your questions by Twitter to @bbournival or @TomVH.

@JUSTINSMITH78: With the scholarships coming back to Penn State. Where do you think they stand this year with some kids?

Brad Bournival: Targets like three-star Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, N.J./Southern Regional) said it best following the announcement of the reduction of the scholarships when he talked about being happy for Penn State, but stated he always considered the Nittany Lions a destination. The feeling here is it won’t affect the 2014 class that much as it will next year. The father of ESPN Junior 300 wide receiver David Dowell (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward) and his twin Andrew has said the fact scholarships will be up 20 percent will only help moving forward.

[+] EnlargeBill O'Brien
AP Photo/Bill KostrounGood news from the NCAA could lead to a recruiting windfall for Bill O'Brien and Penn State.
@PSUlions1121 How much does the reduction in sanctions for Penn State help them with recruiting?

Tom VanHaaren: There are two sides of this, the short term and the long term.

In the short term it’s great because it allows the Nittany Lions to potentially add five more prospects to the 2014 class. They can offer and pursue kids they might not have gone after with the scholarship reductions and it gives them a little more wiggle room.

In the long run it’s outstanding because the potential hit to the depth chart is lowered drastically. Having a limit in scholarships doesn’t necessarily affect the team right away, but once they get a few recruiting classes deep with limited numbers it starts to show its impact. Avoiding that is the biggest advantage.

@dannograef: How big is the gap in recruiting between the Big Ten and SEC right now?

Bournival: It’s still pretty large. One look at the top 25 in this year’s class rankings shows seven SEC teams with Alabama (No. 1), Tennessee (3) and Georgia (5) in the top five. The Big Ten only has Michigan (No. 6), Ohio State (9) and Penn State (25) in the top 25.

The quality of athlete is still stronger in the SEC. Alabama (14), Tennessee (10), Georgia (9), Florida (9), Texas A&M (9), LSU (9) and Auburn (7) account for 67 ESPN 300 commitments. While Michigan (9), Ohio State (7) and Penn State (3) are doing well, the entire Big Ten Conference only has 24 in the top 300 and that doesn’t even count the number of four-star athletes both conferences boast, which again weighs heavily in the SEC’s favor.

@UofMKirwin12 What happens first, Michigan moves up in class rankings with a commit or moves down with commits elsewhere. The Wolverines have been at No. 6 for a while now.

VanHaaren: Good question. I think they will move up before moving down. Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) is announcing his decision on Nov. 14. Michigan is in his top three with Alabama and Florida and there is a realistic shot that the Wolverines land him.

If he does end up picking Michigan, it will be the only team with two top-five commits in the 2014 class. Hand, at No. 4 overall, would make two five-star commits along with Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic) and that would give them a boost.

@buckeyefan686: You’ve been right on the money with predicting the last Ohio State commits, so who and when do you predict is the next one?

Bournival: For me all signs point to Gesicki, but with some underlying factors. First, the Buckeyes’ commitments have to make him feel welcome this weekend -- they’re very good at that, by the way -- and really make him feel like family. After that, Ohio State will have to survive a visit to Penn State on Oct. 12 when the Nittany Lions play Michigan. Both atmospheres will be lively, but I think the Buckeyes can sell the three-star tight end on coming to Columbus.

@MikeBelik1: Any jucos that can make a splash next year in the Big Ten?

VanHaaren: Illinois is losing four wide receivers after this season, so it was highly important that the coaching staff filled that need. They landed some good looking receiver prospects including juco receiver Tyrin Stone-Davis (Philadelphia/Pierce College). He has good size and should be able to help right away.

Indiana landed a good looking offensive line prospect in DeAndre Herron (Avon, Ind./Iowa Western Community College), who was a big recruit out of high school. He might not play right away since the Hoosiers have a relatively young line, but he should eventually see the field.

A few uncommitted prospects who could end up in the Big Ten include offensive lineman Luke Hayes (El Dorado, Kan./Butler County Community College) and defensive linemen Terrell Clinkscales (Dodge City, Kan./Dodge City Community College) and Joe Keels (Highland, Kan./Highland Community College).

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