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By Billy TuckerNewly implemented NCAA recruiting rules impeding head coaches from hitting the road in the spring, have done little to slow down some of the big-name head coaching hires entering their first full recruiting seasons. With the start of the unofficial 2009 recruiting year and three months after national signing day 2008, it's seems like an appropriate time to evaluate how these coaches are faring so far.
For the most part, most appear to be cashing in on the positive buzz and optimism typically created around a program anytime there is a significant change with its figurehead. At the same time, there is a similar degree of difficulty for each of the following coaches as they all face new and different variables at their respective institutions.
Bo Pelini, Nebraska
The former LSU defensive coordinator closed well after his late hire in '08 and is hoping his great energy and astute defensive pedigree will start to attract some of the state's and country's finest prospects back to Lincoln. Pelini appears to have the Cornhusker faithful buying in, but has yet to make waves on the recruiting trail in '09.
None of the Huskers' three committed prospects appear on the ESPN 150 Watch list. Shawn Bodtmann (Scranton Pa./West Scranton) is a good, solid football player, but does not possess ideal measurables for an outside linebacker prospect. Defensive tackle Thaddeus Randle (Houston/North Shore) is built in the same mold; he will need a lot of physical developing and coaching, to make in an impact in the Big 12. On a positive note, there might not be a better strength program or defensive coach for these two prospects to blossom under.
Bobby Petrino, Arkansas
Petrino stole a few big names down the stretch, resulting in a No. 18 class for the Razorbacks in '08. Now the former Atlanta Falcons head coach looks to top that in his first full recruiting season. Arkansas already boasts three talented prospects in the early going, with several highly-touted prospects listing the Razorbacks as a top interest school. Petrino is trying to put a fence around the state and so far he has been very effective. Cornerback Darius Winston (Helena, Ark./West) and guard Colby Berna (Fayetteville, Ark.) are not only two of the Razorback state's top prospects, but both will be highly ranked nationally upon the release of the 2009 ESPN 150. Running back Turrell Williams (West Helena, Ark./West), Winston's teammate, might not be 150 material at this time, but the powerful back should be one of the state's best next fall.
Rich Rodriguez, Michigan
Aside from a void at quarterback, Rodriguez inherited a great system-fitting class from Lloyd Carr in '08. The QB problem has been addressed early as coach Rodriguez has already lured not one, but two dynamic, dual-threat quarterbacks with the skills to run his explosive offense in Ann Arbor. Kevin Newsome (Chesapeake, Va./Western Branch) may be more physically ready to run the show and is currently a better passer, but Shavodrick Beaver (Wichita Falls, Texas/Rider) is perhaps the better runner of the two. His seven total commits all are on the ESPN 150 Watch List.
Bill Stewart, West Virginia
It was a difficult job taking over for Rodriguez, but after inheriting a disappointing class in '08, Stewart is off to a fast start at a school not traditionally known for getting out of the gates early. The Mountaineers already boast seven commitments with good overall quality from top-to-bottom. The one-two punch of QB Tajh Boyd (Hampton, Va./Phoebus) and Under Armour All-American receiver Logan Heastie (Chesapeake, Va./Great Bridge) is much hyped and much deserved -- both are excellent national prospects at their respective positions.
Mike Sherman, Texas A&M
In his return to A&M and college football, Sherman did a good job retaining some of the bigger-name prospects he inherited last year, like ESPN's No. 6-rated defensive tackle Roderick Davis (Houston/Dwight D. Eisenhower). In '09, he has landed two fine interior guys of his own in ESPN 150 Watch list DTs Chris Henderson (Dallas/Carter) and Stephen Barrera (Houston/Clear Lake). He has a steady group of seven total prospects that committed in the early going.
Rick Neuheisel, UCLA
The smartest recruiting move Neuheisel may have made in his return to UCLA was retaining defensive coordinator and highly-touted recruiter DeWayne Walker on staff. Receiver Byron Moore Jr. (Harbor City, Calf./Narbonne) is a top national prospect, but look for the former Bruins' signal caller to try and land a top-tier QB after the rare injuries UCLA suffered at the position this spring. Don't be surprised if Under Armour All-American Josh Nunes (Upland/Calif.) quickly becomes Neuheisel's top in-state target. The hire of respected offensive coordinator Norm Chow should start to help on the offensive recruiting end.
By Billy TuckerIt might be early, but Tim Brewster is certainly off to a great start on the recruiting trail in '09 and building off his surprising No. 23 class from a year ago. The second year head coach with a reputation as a fierce recruiter has landed another talented offensive prospect who by most accounts, was a reach for the Golden Gopher program that went 1-11 in 2007. Running back Hasan Lipscomb (Houston/Cypress Ridge) chose Minnesota over Nebraska, LSU and Iowa State and has the physical makeup in our opinion to be a very productive college running back, a guy who could potentially carry the load for the Gophers. Lipscomb has the lateral quickness and perimeter speed to hurt a defense on the outside and we feel he will develop into a great runner who can become a one cut and go downhill runner at the next level. With great upside, he forms a great offensive nucleus with Under Armour All-American quarterback Moses Alipate (Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson). Aside from his impressive skills as a running back, Lipscomb is a significant land out of the talent rich state of Texas. Minnesota went the extra mile to snag the ESPN 150 Watch List back, and it made quite an impression on him while doing so.
"They told me I can come in and start like every school tells recruits, but I believe them," Lipscomb explained. "At some of those other schools like LSU I would be like the third running back -- in just the freshmen class alone."A victim of Hurricane Katrina when living in New Orleans, Lipscomb fell behind in his school credits. He said the effort Minnesota's staff has put forth in getting the gifted running back on the right track to be eligible for college, was one of the deciding points as well. Some schools in Lipscomb's eyes were scared off by the challenge, but Minnesota hung with him, and now the back who rushed for over 1,600 yards and 26 touchdowns while playing in the shadow of Under Armour All-American athlete Russell Shepard (Houston/Cypress Ridge) is doing some solid recruiting of his own.
"I am calling and texting other recruits Minnesota has offered," Lipscomb said. "There are not going to be as many scholarships this year so I want to make sure we get great players."
-- Billy Tucker
Wideout Patterson interested in Gators
Under Armour All-American Jamal Patterson had great things to say about Florida during an interview with ESPN affiliate Web site GatorCountry.com.
QB Nunes gets big-time offer
Top signal-caller Josh Nunes has received his 16th scholarship offer. This one's from the Oklahoma Sooners, ESPN's Tom Luginbill reports.
Safety Jeffery names 10 schools
Damario Jeffery spoke with ESPN affiliate Web site OUInsider.com and listed his 10 favorites.
Billy Tucker: Hey coach, some clips on film I would say yes, others no. He's a bit inconsistent and is definitely a kid who is still developing physically and as a passer.
Roger (IL): What can Spurrier do to get some more players into South Carolina?
Billy Tucker: From recruits I have talked with the past few years, it seems like Spurrier does a great job selling the program, school and himself as a guy who can get them ready for the NFL. He is a real shrewd recruiter.
Sam (Detroit): OK Billy, you're on the spot. Who does coach Rodriguez give the keys to in 2009 to run his offense, Newsome or Beaver?
Billy Tucker: They are the same type of players. Newsome is a better passer right now, but Beaver is perhaps a better runner.• To read the full chat, click here.
ESPN 150 Watch List prospect Victor Marc (Hallandale, Fla.) is one of the better athletes in the 2009 class whom no one is talking about.
The multifaceted prospect's versatility is perhaps the underlying factor in his national recruiting obscurity. Last season at Dr. Krop High School, Marc was employed as a dual-threat quarterback in a zone-read system, and his stats were far from eye-popping. The talented athlete threw for just over 800 yards on about 10 pass attempts per game while adding close to 500 yards on the ground. Solid numbers, but not enough to attract major recruiting attention in the early going, at least not as a college quarterback prospect.
Regardless of stats and notoriety, the skills we observed on film from the dynamic signal-caller were impressive enough to garner an Under Armour All-America invitation as early as February. Marc's playmaking ability and striking initial speed on film are rare qualities. When you factor in his chiseled 210-pound frame, we saw the exciting makeup of a highly-productive Division I player -- regardless of position.
|Minnesota 2009 recruits|