Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dream Team

Advertising is all about grabbing your audience’s attention and appealing to them in order to get them to buy or become interested in your product. As the landscape of recruiting continues to develop, coaches have to find different ways of appealing to players. Conference prestige, campus life, academic rigors, and even football facilities are just a few of the devices coaches use in order to convince young athletes to choose their school over all others. Programs have also started implementing a new concept: recruiting themes, which actually is a very well thought out way of advertising. The University of Georgia and Coach Mark Richt have created a concept called “The Dream Team.” Coach Richt is trying to convince the best players in the state of Georgia to buy into the Dream Team concept because it allows the best players to keep their talents in-state and represent the state as a whole at the University of Georgia. Their recruiting concept recently has started to build a lot of steam.

With multiple Division I schools within a state, keeping talented athletes in-state and recruiting them to one specific university is very important and a difficult task to achieve. The University of Georgia has a strong trend of recruiting the majority of the top tier talent within the state of Georgia. In my opinion, there is a direct correlation between the number of talented in-state athletes a school can recruit and how successful the school will be in season. This is especially true in the talent-laden southeast where all of the states have huge talent pools. This is true in Florida as well. For the longest time Miami dominated the state's recruiting, until then the transfer of power went to Florida State when they were able to recruit more in-state athletes than Miami, and now Florida is on top. If a program can get higher in-state recruiting numbers, they will have to recruit fewer out of state athletes, which is usually a much more difficult task.

UGA’s Dream Team concept really is amazing because it allows athletes who have played for their state against other southeastern states, especially rivalries such as Georgia vs. Florida and South Carolina vs. North Carolina, to band together at a college level and continue to display pride in their state. The idea of playing for a team which has enough in-state talent to beat their rival state is a huge draw for a young athlete who is proud of their background. This concept has gained popularity with the top talent in Georgia and could allow the University of Georgia to bring in one of the best recruiting classes of its recent history. I have a feeling that other universities will adopt similar concepts to try to attract in-state athletes. Regardless of the actual recruiting themes they come up with, it is clear that every university’s goal is to obtain as much in-state talent as possible year to year. In-state recruiting allows a school to create pipelines and win rivalry games. This is just another significant concept in winning football games and building a solid program....

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Big Decision for a Young Man

The NCAA Football recruiting process always has been and will continue to be fluid, and this is especially clear now that we are only one week away from National Signing Day. The major reason behind the flexibility of this process is the fact that young, 17- and 18-year-old men have multiple schools telling them what amazing players they are, how wonderful their institution is, and how their program will make them better athletes. These young men also have other influential people, including parents, coaches, mentors, and peers, who often give them conflicting advice. All of these factors place a lot of pressure on these young men as they make their big decision.

If my son were struggling with this decision, I would encourage him to look at several important factors before choosing a school and program. First, I would encourage him to look at the school and the academic opportunities it provides. It is important that an athlete attend a school that offers a course of study which interests him. Ultimately, I would want my child to be academically successful and set himself up for something outside of football, so that he has career options other than football.

Second, I would consider the football program itself and the way it the way it prepares its athletes to perform both on and off the field. For example, although the University of Georgia has not performed well in the last couple of years, they have an excellent coach who has proven his talents and has sent many players to the NFL.

If your son dreams of playing in the NFL, then you have to research the type of system that each school runs, and encourage your son to find a program which will both improve and showcase his skills at his position. If my son wanted to play as a quarterback in the NFL, I would suggest he look at UGA, USC (Southern Cal), Tennessee, Florida State, and Miami, which are all schools whose programs run a pro-style offense. Professional teams love athletes who have played in these systems because they do not have to waste any time teaching them the basics.

As a receiver, it is important sign with a team that throws the ball a lot and gets its players involved. Schools like Texas Tech, Michigan, SMU (Southern Methodist University), Auburn, and Florida, will put their receivers into the best positions and showcase their skills well.

As a defensive minded player, the big thing to consider is whether a school plays with a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. Based on his position and skills, I would want my son to play in a defense that not only will show off those skills but also will allow him to transition more easily to both college and the NFL. Ray Drew is a player who at 6’5” 250 lb. could grow into an ideal outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. If my son had similar developmental potential, I would want him to play in a 3-4 defense in college so that the NFL would see my son’s versatility and ability to play in both space and rush the passer.

Overall, it is much easier for an athlete to learn the skills that are necessary to play in the NFL as a young, developing player in college. If they don’t, they may be asked to learn a new position in a very short time after they are drafted. Tyrod Taylor is an example of an athlete who played solely as a quarterback for Virginia Tech, and now the NFL is asking him to develop as a wide receiver. Of course it is possible that the switch can happen, but it is incredibly tough to go from one comfortable position to a brand-new one. And at the highest level of football, in the NFL, that kind of switch often will put you behind the curve. So many young men forget to look at which aspects of a program will set themeselves up the most for success both in college and in the NFL as well. Winning is the end goal, but if a program does not use its players to the best of their abilities, then neither the individual nor the team will benefit.

I will continue to write posts concerning different aspects of recruiting and if any of my readers have questions, please feel free to ask, and I will address them in future articles.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ball Game!!

As college football gets closer and closer to National Signing Day, we will see the recruiting rankings for individual schools jump up and down. Recruiting is a very fluid process and within the SEC there still is a lot of talent that has yet to be signed. One of the better corners in the country, Malcolm Mitchell, finally decided on a school. The 6'1” 185 lb. cornerback from Valdosta, GA, announced his commitment to the University of Georgia on Thursday night. This is not a surprise to me because of the pipeline that Valdosta has created between itself and both UGA and Florida State.

Last year I had a chance to see Malcolm play in person and was very impressed. What most impressed me was his ability to utilize his size and speed for an impressive performance.Although he is currently a little small as far as build is considered, he has the frame to put some solid weight on. The thing that sticks out most is his ability to stick his nose into the action and make great tackles. His frame packs a bigger punch than most would expect. Malcolm has a lot of experience as a wide receiver, and this has given him extremely good ball skills which set him above other cornerbacks. Malcom is very dangerous once he gets the ball in his hands. Malcolm uses his extremely quick speed to be a skilled return man, and he is rarely caught in the open field.

The more I watch, the moreI believe thatMalcolm will play a lot of different roles at UGA. At his current size, he will have the opportunity to play early as a return man on special teams becausehe knows how to set up his blocks so that his opponents will miss every time. Once Malcolm begins a solid weight program in college and bulks up, I wouldn't be surprised to see him make a transition to safety. Malcom exhibits the same versatility I see in many safeties now and it is a perfect fit for his skill set. Just like Patrick Peterson does for LSU, I can see him adding weight while still keeping his speed, which will allow the UGA defense more flexibility. Check out Malcolm's video and let me know what you think. Don't forget to comment and follow.......

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Coach's Court

The height of the recruiting season immediately follows the bowl season. This is when impressions of a programs future are either at their highest or lowest. Players decide whether to stay in school or come out early, coaches finalize their recruiting boards, and signing day quickly approaches.

One aspect of recruiting that kids so often forget is the impact of a change in personnel on the coaching level. From position coaches being hired and fired to whole sale changes, these actions have a huge effect on players and their decisions.

One of the biggest coaching changes this year has greatly affected the state of Georgia's best linebacker, James Vaughters. The 6'2” 232 lb. linebacker is Stanford's biggest recruit to date and after Coach Jim Harbaugh headed to the NFL, Vaughters’ commitment to Stanford has come into question.

This highly skilled and highly intellectual player has high hopes for not only his football goals but for his academic goals as well. Vaughters is a 4.0 student and has always considered academics one of his biggest draws in a program.

Now that a coaching change has been made, it is up to Stanford to reassure James and his family that not only will he fit into the new system, if one is implemented, but also that the new coaches are capable of getting the most out of Vaughters’ talents, while still fostering a great environment for his future.

Regardless of what Vaughters decides, I think Stanford is the place for him. He will obviously get the academic challenges that he needs at that institution, as well as an improved program that will continue to compete on a national level. Check out the video below and see why James Vaughters is one of the most coveted linebackers in the country.

Monday, January 17, 2011

That Dude!

Football is a sport that mainly recruits players based on potential. After talking to a college coach from the ACC, I believe this even more. He said that potential is about 75% of the recruiting process. If potential alone is the reason why Ray Drew was recruited, that is good enough for me.

The 6'5” 245 lb. senior out of Thomasville, GA has all the potential in the world. Besides his huge frame that will easily add more weight once you put on the tape, it is clear that Drew is extremely athletic. Drew is an extremely hard-nosed player; he seems to always be around the ball, whether he is chasing it down from the backside or spilling multiple blockers. It is extremely difficult for tackles to get depth against Drew because of his speed. By the time they set up, Drew is usually turning the corner on the way to the quarterback. Drew's tremendous strength is apparent even on film. His ability to use great leverage allows Drew to remain in dominant and dictating positions of attack.

If Drew continues to improve upon his skill set, the sky is the limit. He will clearly get stronger and faster, and his technique is already pretty good when it comes to natural body position. The one thing he will benefit from the most is consistent competition and excellent coaching. Those things, along with a solid training program and barring any injury, will secure a place for Drewin the NFL someday.

Check out Ray Drew's video and see what you think........

The Comeback

As the Editor of this blog I wanted to take a second to explain what has been going on in and around my blog. I took a short hiatus because of moving out west for my jobs as well as finishing up training and school. I am back on the east coast for a few months, but regardless I am more focused on bringing my readers content that is relevant and unheard of.

I am still committed to finding not only the players that everyone knows about, but also the players that have not been highly recruited but should be. I would appreciate any an all feedback that any of my readers have had. I do my best to always read and respond to comments made on my blog. I also would appreciate comments on content and what readers might want to see more of. I will always do my best to give the readers what they want.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

6 Foot, 7 Foot, 8 Foot, 9!

Once again, I am jumping back into the past of former athletes who I have profiled previously. Today I am looking at a personal favorite, Greg Reid. This Georgia product has been criticized for wanting to go to Florida State because of the lack of talent at his position, and feeling that he would get a quick chance to start. In the end Greg found a program that fit his needs.

The thing that most impresses me about Greg Reid is the fact that he plays extremely well for his 5'9” 180 lb. frame. When he steps on the field he has an instant impact and he couples his ability with a little showmanship, which the home crowd loves.

When you put in the film of Greg Reid, you see instantly that he has the "it" factor. He is an instinctive corner who gambles a lot but is not often beat. He does a great job of driving on routes, and when something is caught he knows how to break on the ball and deliver a big blow. Greg isn't just a defender either. He is great on special teams and making good things happen whenever he gets the ball in his hand. During Florida State's bowl game, he made two different returns of over 25 yardseach. As I watched South Carolina kick to Greg, I just shook my head and thought of calling him ababy Devin Hester. Despite his small stature, Greg Reid has the talent to play in the NFL. I think he will end up becoming a better version of Antoine Winfield. Check out his video below and see what you think......

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Secondary Stunner

Once again I am reviewing previous players who are now contributing at the Division I level. One of the most athletic and versatile athletes I have ever posted about was a guy by the name of Stephon Gilmore. Graduating from South Pointe High School, Stephon was the number one rated player in the state of South Carolina even though he played out of position his last 2 years of high school. The 6'1” 190lb. standout for the University of South Carolina, played quarterback in high school prior to moving to cornerback, his more natural position on the defensive side.

Once Stephon stepped into spring ball, it was clear that he was going to have an instant impact. Two years later, after becoming a Freshman All American, Stephon's impact is still being felt. I made it to Atlanta during the bowl season and actually watched Stephon play in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. As a true sophomore, Stephon has continued to improve his NFL potential. Lining up and shutting down opposing receivers is natural for Stephon. What sets him apart is his size and quickness. He is a very technically sound defensive back that understands both man and zone principles. Offenses will not see him gamble much on routes, yet he always puts himself in a position to make plays. Stephon rarely gives up the size that a lot of defenders do, yet he plays against speedy smaller receivers very well. I grade him as a very solid defensive back that is primed for the NFL. Stephon reminds me of a slightly taller Janoris Jenkins.

Seeing Stephon in person showed me what the films does not—people do not challenge him a lot. The one mistake that Christian Ponder made prior to leaving the game was an interception made by Stephon. In my opinion, if Stephon continues to improve at the same pace, he will not only be in the NFL in a year but will be a top defensive back in the SEC, which is always a difficult and prized title.

Check out this short clip on Stephon Gilmore and don't forget to check out his high school tapes which are on ........

Friday, January 7, 2011

Remember Us.....?

The title of this post says something in itself. I have been away from my blog entirely too long and I am looking to start off 2011 with a more consistent product for my readers. As a way to remind my readers of what I have done, I am going to use the next few posts to re-visit former high school players who I have featured and who have in fact been successful since signing and joining college teams.

Today, I am looking back at a very talented but underrated quarterback by the name of Jeffrey Godfrey. The last time we looked at this 5-11 182lbs QB, most of the top schools who recruited him thought he was a highly talented player who just needed a position change. Wide receiver, defensive back, return specialist—all of these positions were well within Jeffrey's talents, but what he wanted was a real chance to play the quarterback position. UCF’s Coach O'Leary was the one to give Jeffrey that chance and he certainly has not disappointed.

Jeffrey is the starting QB at UCF as a true freshman, and he has really shown a special knack for making plays. The QB's statistics speak for his talent on the field: 67% completion percentage with over 2,000 passing yards and 700 rushing yards on the season. With those kinds of numbers, it is no wonder that Jeffrey has led his team to victory with a 10-6 record, the best season in the history of UCF football. The 10th victory came from a thrilling defeat of SEC powerhouse, the University of Georgia, at the Auto Zone Liberty Bowl. Jeffrey and the Knights will assuredly moveup from their current 25th placed ranking after the win. I see that a lot of the team’s success has come from Jeffrey's ability to make plays both inside and outside of the pocket.

This speedy freshman is only going to get better, and in my opinion, he will further strengthen the Knights’ program. Not only do the Knights currently have a cast of young and talented players and a proven winner as the head coach, but they are also located in a recruiting hot bed. I have no doubt that the Knights could reach if they continue to make choices like the one they made with Jeffrey.