- Craig Haubert, ESPN Staff Writer
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The New England region of the United States has never been known as a high school football recruiting hotbed, to say the least. Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut are all smaller states that lack the population and enrollments at the high school level to routinely produce upper-echelon talent.
However, that's not to say there haven't been a few big names hail from New England over the years. Last year in the NFL there were 18 players from the state of Massachusetts. Who can forget Doug Flutie (Natick, Mass) or Super Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who hails from Xaverian Brothers in Norfolk, Mass. One of the NFL's most underrated players also hails from the area. Chicago Bears cornerback Jerry Azumah was an outstanding running back at St. Peter-Marian high school in Worcester, Mass. and also at the University of New Hampshire.
Aaron Hernandez, tight end
Bristol Central (Bristol, Conn.)
Hernandez is one of the most athletic pass catchers in this class and has had a whirlwind of a recruiting experience since the end of his sophomore year. Hernandez is one of those prospects who early on didn't realize just how good he would be and thus committed to UConn before his junior season.
Hernandez' brother, D.J., is the starting quarterback for the Huskies and obviously would love to have his brother join UConn's program. But Aaron had a change of heart of the summer and switched his commitment to the Florida Gators. The Gators need some tight end production in the passing game and also as a steady blockers for the spread offense. Given that Florida had one tight end on its roster last year, Hernandez could become an integral part of the offense sooner rather than later.
Brother D.J. is still pushing hard to get his brother to switch again and decide to join him at Connecticut, but don't hold your breath. This is why it doesn't always make sense to commit so early. Offensive guard Antonio Logan-El of Forestville, Md., found that out last year, when he landed at Penn State after making an early commitment to Maryland before his junior season.
Player under the radar
Corey Gatewood, Wide receiver
Belmont Hill (Wellesley, Mass.)
Verbal: Boston College
Gatewood reminds us a lot of former Boston College WR/CB Will Blackmon in regards to his versatility and playmaking skills. Both have great experience at just about every skill position on the field outside of quarterback, and both show very good speed. As with many prospects in the New England area, we are always somewhat concerned about the level of competition the players face each week, and Gatewood is much better than his peers.
However, Gatewood is a step in the right direction for Boston College if it wants to continue to rise in the ACC. If the Eagles are to compete for a conference title, they must be able to lure some premier players to Chestnut Hill. They must beat other schools for the top players in the region, then be able to snag some top players out of New Jersey and ultimately move south for some upper-tier skill guys.
On the trail
As expected, Boston College is the team to beat for recruits in New England. Though the pickings might be slim, four of the Eagles' 12 verbal commitments so far are from the area. Also, top-30 offensive tackle Chris Shannon (Andover, Mass./Phillips Academy) remains undecided. He's waiting for more offers during his senior season before he makes a decision.
Tom Luginbill is the national director of recruiting for Scouts, Inc. Tom is a college football and recruiting studio analyst for ESPNU.