Mailbag: Nick O'Leary in Miami?
Here is the second mailbag of the season. I'll be able to answer questions on recruiting and other related topics. If I didn't get to your question this week, don't be afraid to resend it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: I see Nick O'Leary (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer) is thinking about Miami. How do you think he would fit in with Miami's offense?
I think O'Leary might be the most complete offensive player in the Class of 2011. He does everything well and I've yet to find a defensive player at the high school level who can stop him from making a play whenever he wants to. I believe he could walk onto any campus and become an immediate contributor without question. At Miami, I would imagine that offensive coordinator Mark Whipple would use O'Leary as part of his rotation in the slot.
Q: I saw A.J. Leggett (Miami, Fla./Booker T. Washington) say he was thinking about Oregon. We already signed Jerrard Randall (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade-Madonna) and Tacoi Sumler (Miami, Fla./Christopher Columbus). How are my Ducks doing so well in South Florida?
-- Mike Breame, Hillsboro, Ore.
Oregon definitely has the interest of several South Florida prospects and it's for a number of reasons:
• The uniforms. As much as we like to overthink this process, we're still dealing with teenagers and things like unlimited uniform combinations can draw initial interest. It isn't going to be the deciding factor, but it's something that separates Oregon from the pack.
• The facilities. Many prospects just want to fly cross country to see the house(s) that Phil Knight built. Plus, the people in the football offices are aggressive with marketing this aspect of the program.
• The offense. The speedy Florida athletes like Oregon's wide-open attack, which is designed to get them in space. Sumler repeatedly talked about the Ducks' offensive scheme as one of his deciding factors.
• More than anything, Oregon is a relatively new program to the prospects on the East Coast. They are starting to get on national TV more and they have a fresh aura about them that appeals to recruits who want to experience something new.
Q: As a Florida State fan not living in Florida, I'm curious to know if coach Jimbo Fisher and staff plan to explore talent outside of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, etc.? I know those areas do offer up a hefty amount of talent, so there isn't a need to go outside of those states too often, but has he given any indication of doing so in the not to distant future?
-- Jim Centifonti, Philadelphia
One of Fisher's main goals when he helped bring in recruiting coordinator James Coley and director of player personnel Bob LaCivita was to revamp the way the Seminoles recruited in Florida and the southern part of Georgia. With quarterbacks coach Dameyune Craig on the current staff, Fisher has added a terrific presence in the southern part of Alabama. As for the rest of the nation, of course the Seminoles will continue to have a presence. The top two quarterbacks on the depth chart, Christian Ponder and E.J. Manuel, are from Texas and Virginia, respectively, and FSU's 2010 recruiting class included Connecticut prospects Will Tye and Bjorn Werner.
Q: Do you think Notre Dame is going to pull any more prospects out of Florida in this class?
-- Samuel Fann, Bloomington, Ind.
The Irish are 4-for-4 in their primary targets in Florida -- offensive lineman Jordan Prestwood (Plant City, Fla./Plant City), defensive lineman Aaron Lynch (Cape Coral, Fla./Island Coast) and outside linebackers Clay Burton (Venice, Fla./Venice) and Anthony Rabasa (Miami, Fla./Christopher Columbus). Notre Dame is still on the board for other prospects like defensive back Wayne Lyons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Dillard), but anything else from the Sunshine State would probably be considered a bonus for Brian Kelly and his staff.
Q: Do you see Duke putting together classes that are on par with at least UNC in the near future?
-- Dillon Grubb, Charlestown, Ind.
While I don't think they will be on par with UNC, I believe that David Cutcliffe's staff has done a very good job upgrading talent. I would think their ultimate goal is to recruit similar to the way Stanford does, but to give you a better answer I went to Tom Luginbill, ESPN's national director of football recruiting, for his thoughts on the Blue Devils' recruiting:
"[Cutcliffe] has definitely upgraded their overall speed and athleticism," Luginbill said. "It will be tough for them to be Stanford because they don't have their facilities and Stanford does not have to deal with basketball being the dominant sport. Considering their academic standards, I think they have .500 or slightly above talent in coming years. They already have 22 verbals for this class."
Q: Do you think Auburn has a good shot at landing running back Mike Blakely (Bradenton, Fla./Manatee)?
-- Jay Knox, Pensacola, Fla.
From what I understand, Blakely is one of the top -- if not the top -- prospects remaining on Auburn's board. He seems to have Auburn and Florida tied at the top and it could come down to how much Florida's offense will change under new quarterback John Brantley. One thing about Blakely is that he sees himself as a running back and not a hybrid running back/slot back/receiver. So the program that utilizes the running back in a more traditional form might have the edge.
Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at email@example.com.