- Corey Long, Reporter, RecruitingNation
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Wow, a lot of questions this week and some I wasn't able to get through and others I'll address right now. Yes, I know the 50 in 15 is running a little late, but it will get finished in the next week and it's a good thing because I'll have time to review more teams after they have played their kickoff classic.
Otherwise, I hope all of you will be tuning in to this weekend's ESPN RISE High School Football Kickoff and watch 16 of the most-exciting teams in the nation take battle. Friday night's doubleheader is a good one as Plant (Tampa, Fla.) and Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.) will stage a rematch of the 2009 Florida Class 5A state championship game at 7 p.m. (ET) and Northern California's best offense battles its best defense as Folsom (Calif.) hosts Grant (Sacramento, Calif.).
Check back to ESPN.com all weekend for coverage of this great event.
And now on to the questions!
Who are your sleeper recruits this year, guys that are flying under the radar? Speaking of potential sleepers, is Marlin Lane (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland) the next C.J Spiller for Clemson? He's dynamite out of the backfield and has many blue-chip qualities.
-- Noah Bercey, Lincoln, Neb.
One guy I really like is defensive tackle Chris Mayes (Griffin, Ga./Spalding), a 6-foot-4, 290-pounder that recently made a verbal commitment to Georgia. He's a real athletic young man and he's got a nasty streak that I can see when he tackles people. A kid that's going to be 310-315 pounds on the defensive line with a nasty streak is something the Bulldogs desperately need. In most years, Mayes would be a big name but with so many great defensive linemen in the Southeast this year, he hasn't gotten as much attention as he deserves.
Another player that's flying under the radar that I really like is defensive lineman Adarius Rayner (Largo, Fla./Largo). He's a 250-pounder that could play end or tackle because he's got great speed (4.8-second 40) for his size and has a basketball background that really highlights his footwork and athleticism. Rayner was the MVP of one of the sessions at the Down & Dirty Lineman camp and he has battled some serious adversity his whole life. I'm a big fan.
As for the second part of your question, I actually see Clemson's other running back commit, Mike Bellamy (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte), as more of the all-purpose back that can make big plays through the running and the passing game. That isn't to say Lane isn't a blue-chip running back, because when he's fully healthy I believe he's the best that Florida has to offer.
Maybe it's because of the increased media coverage these days, but it seems as if this summer has seen an inordinate amount of freshmen transfer before even getting to Game 1. Is there a common theme here?
-- Joey Digital, Atlanta, Ga.
I don't necessarily believe there's a common theme and unless you believe the rumors that Dominique Easley and Ronald Powell were threatening to leave the Florida program after Mike Pouncey lashed out at the freshman class (I don't believe it at all), I think it's too easy to paint all of these transfers with the same brush.
Sometimes it's the difficulties of being so far from home. On other occasions there might have been a position coaching switch, since the letter of intent was signed and the player isn't connecting with the new coach. It could be a number of things. And before you assume anything, remember that every player and every situation is different. The ultimate goal is to succeed as a student-athlete and it's important to find the right situation for that goal to be reached.
Do you think James Wilder Jr. (Tampa Bay, Fla./Plant) will play RB every year at FSU? I think he's a five-star linebacker and defensive end but a mid-level four-star running back.
-- Curtis Hamlin, Washington, D.C.
You speak of being a mid-level, four-star running back as if that's a bad thing. I can't predict the future with Wilder, but I do believe that he can have success as a running back. For one thing, he loves playing the position and it's where his passion on the field is these days. Another reason is that he's only been playing the position for one season in high school. He has a lot to learn and he hasn't picked up too many bad habits so far. Maybe when he gets into a different environment he'll be open to a change, but I doubt it. I believe Wilder is 100 percent committed to playing in the offensive backfield.
Do you think Florida has another Percy Harvin-type player in Javares McRoy (Lakeland, Fla./Lakeland)?
-- John Wurderman, Auburndale, Fla.
I don't know if I'd compare McRoy to Harvin. He's not as big as Harvin and therefore he isn't going to be asked to make the tough catches in tight spaces that Harvin did. I think a better comparison is Dexter McCluster. McRoy is definitely an explosive player, and when he is on his game he can be as good as anyone. I hope to see more week-to-week consistency from him in his senior year at Lakeland.
What do you think of Miami's class so far and what do they need to add to make it a great class?
-- Alphonso Jean, Miramar, Fla.
The Hurricanes have just six commitments so far, but they will go on a late run. Next week, Anthony Chickillo (Tampa, Fla./Alonso) is going to make his announcement and I still believe that Miami is the team to beat. After that it would be nice for Randy Shannon to add a couple of game-changers on offense like Nick O'Leary (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer) and Kelvin Benjamin (Belle Glade, Fla./Glades Central). We'll see if Chickillo's announcement is the start of good things for Miami.
I couldn't tell you what happened with Wilson, but it was a complete misfire that left him upset with the program. Right now he's got enough quality offers that I don't believe there is a chance for Wilson to even reconsider USF unless he has a change of heart and decides to stay in the area. However, I wouldn't write off Paul yet because he's spent a lot of time on the campus and isn't going to make a decision early. If he decides he wants to be close to home, then USF would be the obvious choice.
As for the class overall, I think it's shaping up to be a decent group, especially if the Bulls can add more area talent like athlete Josh Grady (Seffner, Fla./Armwood), wide receiver Andre Davis (Tampa, Fla./Jefferson) and cornerback Ruben Gonzalez (Tampa, Fla./Robinson).
As an Alabama fan, should I be excited about the recent commitment of Eddie Williams (Panama City, Fla./Arnold)?
-- Darek Trippella, Nashville, Tenn.
I would be. Williams joins A.J. Leggett (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) as one the state's top defensive backs in the Class of 2012. He's a long, rangy player with off-the-charts athleticism and once he starts to fill out his frame with more muscle and body mass it's likely the Crimson Tide will have a quality member of its backfield. Even more than the early commitment is the fact that Alabama remains the team to beat for the top talent in northwest Florida and quickly flexed its muscles again. All in all, it's a great start to the 2012 class for Nick Saban.
Is this the year for South Carolina to break through on the field, and if so, how will it help the Gamecocks in their toughest recruiting battles?
-- Ernest Kimble, Spartanburg, S.C.
After several years of "This should be the year for South Carolina," I will say this should be the year for South Carolina to make a breakthrough in the SEC East. They have all of the pieces in place to make a run for the division title. Florida and Georgia are breaking in new quarterbacks, while Tennessee is going through a major transition.
In almost every case more wins will attract better players and even though South Carolina has 15 commitments on the board, the recruit that will energize the program is obviously Jadeveon Clowney (Rock Hill, S.C./South Pointe). In my opinion, the more South Carolina wins, the better chance they stand with the nation's top prospect.
Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.