A pre-spring football mailbag
As spring football in Florida kicks off Monday, it seems like the right time to clear out the inbox and put together a mailbag. Let's go!
As a big fan of UCF, I'm wondering what chance do the Knights have to pull wide receiver D'Vario Montgomery (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park)?
Altamonte Springs, Fla.
Montgomery would be a major coup for the Knights. The fact that he went to UCF's spring game has to bode well for the program and tells me that when he trims his list of schools, the Knights have a good chance of making the top group. But Montgomery has many options and UCF will have to battle some of the heavy hitters in the Southeast to add him to their class.
What are your thoughts on Danny Dillard (Venice, Fla./Venice)? He was just offered by Boston College and I'm wondering how he compares to our current running back Montel Harris, another prospect from Florida.
I like Dillard a lot, I think he and Matt Jones (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) are the two best big backs in the state right now. Dillard is considerably taller than Harris -- about 3-4 inches -- but he doesn't have the balance and vision Harris has. The good news is there is plenty of time to work on those things. What Dillard does bring to the table is excellent speed, especially for a 6-foot-1, 205-pounder. I think he has the ability to be a workhorse in the backfield, a player who can get 25-30 carries a game and wear down a defense.
I haven't heard any top talent coming out of Miami Northwestern High this year. If so, any possible future Hurricanes?
One of the emerging sleepers in the state comes from Northwestern. Wide receiver Amari Cooper just recently received an offer from Ohio State and already had offers from FIU, West Virginia, UCF, Western Michigan and Wake Forest. I believe that offer list will reach around a dozen after the spring is done. If Miami is one of those schools, then you would have to believe that the Canes are going to be considered one of the teams to beat. Otherwise, I think there are some good prospects at Northwestern for their Class of 2012 but not necessarily ones that fit at Miami. If the Hurricanes find themselves in need of another quarterback, they could probably have E.J. Hilliard, but he's going to have to have a really strong spring and possibly a strong first half of his senior season before that offer comes.
I want to know what you think of wide receiver Justin Ferguson (Pembroke Pines, Fla./Flanagan). He came to Notre Dame for the spring game and now he is saying that an announcement will be coming next week. Should I be excited?
I think Notre Dame fans should be very excited about the chances of Ferguson committing to Notre Dame. I think his speed is the most underrated part of his game, but he does a great job of getting behind defenders on routes. He is often the target on middle screens, where he has the ability to outrun a lot of defensive backs. He's a big target (a shade under 6-2 and 200 pounds), and a very smooth route runner with good hands. I think his best football is ahead of him. If he makes the commitment next week, I would think Notre Dame is the team to beat. He still likes Florida and Florida State, however, so he could stay in state. But the timing of his announcement tends to make me think he's going elsewhere.
I'm a huge Florida Gators fan, and now that coach Will Muschamp is running the pro-style offense in Gainesville, the Gators need a go-to wide receiver. Does Florida have a good chance that they land Dorial Green-Beckham (Springfield, Mo./Hillcrest)? If not the Gators, who do you think will land him right now?
Lenoir City, Tenn.
As you might know, Green-Beckham doesn't talk to the media very much and is playing everything close to the vest. Florida definitely wants him -- he's probably the top receiver on its board -- and the Gators are hoping to get him on campus over the summer. Right now it appears that Oklahoma is being mentioned as one of the teams to beat, with Missouri and Arkansas right there as well. Florida is one of a handful of schools that's trying to get in that mix.
How does wide receiver D'Mauri Jones (Leesburg, Fla./Leesburg) compare to the other top-rated receivers in Florida?
Jones is around 6-3 and 190 pounds, so he's definitely going to be classified as one of the big receivers in this class. He's another prospect I'd classify as a sleeper going into the spring because he hasn't really gotten his name out too much yet thanks to his basketball commitments (Leesburg won the Class 4A basketball state championship in March led by Jones' 17 points). But I expect he will get a lot of looks over the spring and I wouldn't be shocked at his offer list jumping from four (USF, UCF, South Carolina, West Virginia) to double digits. It's hard to really compare him to the other top receivers yet because I've just seen a little film, whereas I've seen Nelson Agholor (Tampa, Fla./Berkeley), Chris Black (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) and others in person to confirm their talents. Hopefully I'll get a chance to see Jones this spring.
I'm catching up on the NFL draft and I'm wondering if you think there's a defensive back in Florida this year that reminds you of Patrick Peterson?
West Palm Beach, Fla.
While I see several guys that have the ability to be solid, lockdown-type cornerbacks, I don't see one player who combines the size, speed, ball skills and playmaking ability of Peterson. He was not only the top prospect in the Class of 2008 but probably one of the top 10-15 prospects for the state in that entire decade. That doesn't mean I don't see some terrific defensive backs in this class. I think Tracy Howard (Miramar, Fla./Miramar) is a tremendous talent and I believe Brian Poole (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast) is on a similar level. The strength in Florida this year, however, leans more towards safety over cornerback with players like Marcus Maye (Melbourne, Fla./Holy Trinity Episcopal), Eddie Williams (Panama City, Fla./Arnold), P.J. Williams (Ocala, Fla./Vanguard), Travis Blanks (Tallahassee, Fla./North Florida Christian) and Deon Bush (Miami, Fla./Christopher Columbus) making it a very deep position.
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.
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