The Rivals.com analysts tackle current topics in the recruiting world in a roundtable format.
Most high school seasons are crossing into the second half now. Who has
impressed you the most?
Mike Farrell, National: I'd say I was most impressed with
Jonathan Allen when I saw him in person, but I will say his teammate and another
national top 50 player,
Ryan Burns, also impressed. I think Burns has
the best release and mechanics I have seen on any quarterback this season, he is
big and can move and he has the look of a guy who could be playing on Sundays
down the road. It will be a very tough transition from running a wing offense in
high school to a pro-style offense at Stanford, but in a few years we
could be talking about him as a first rounder if all works out.
Rob Cassidy, West:
I've seen Phoenix Mountain Pointe receiver/safety Jalen Brown in person
three times now. Each time, I leave more impressed with his skill set. As the
sample size grows, I become more convinced that Brown is an elite-level
prospect. He routinely makes plays on both sides of the ball and has a knack for
the big moment. He always seems to be standing at the center of big moments and
has the size and speed necessary for his game to translate to the next level. If
Brown is not the top 2014 player in the Arizona, he's certainly No. 2.
Kynon Codrington, Southeast: I have to say Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee
quarterback Cord Sandberg is the best player I've seen so far. Sandberg
is natural winner and makes everyone around him better. His team beat a pair of
formidable foes in Miramar (Fla.) and Miami (Fla.) Central this month and their
schedule is one of the best in the nation. The Mississippi State commit
has a good arm and nice touch. He is an ideal fit for the spread offense and I
think he will be impact player when he arrives in Starkville.
Adam Gorney, West: When I saw him Friday night, West Hills (Calif.)
Chaminade running back Terrell Newby proved with four touchdowns that
he's one of the best backs in the West.
The four-star prospect is the second-best back in the state and he's definitely
worthy of that recognition. He can run between the tackles but Newby is best
when he escapes to the outside and then uses his outstanding burst to get to the
Plus, Newby can come out of the backfield and catch the ball evidenced by a nice
50-plus yard gain down the seam against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame. Newby has all
the skills to be special with the right blocking.
Josh Helmholdt, Midwest: The best player I have seen in 20-plus games
covered this year has been Crete-Monee (Ill.) wide receiver
Laquon Treadwell, already rated as the No. 1 wide receiver prospect in the nation.
We loved what we saw out of Treadwell at events like the Rivals100
Five-Star Challenge, The Opening and Gridiron Kings, but he may
have been even more impressive the night I covered him and he caught seven
passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
Jason Howell, Southwest: Without a doubt Shreveport (La.) Green Oaks
cornerback Tre'Davious White put together the best night I have seen so
far. He did it in so many ways too. He had some plays on defense, he put on a
show with his play on special teams, and he controlled the field on offense. It
did not just click into place right from the start, but when it did it was over.
White got it done.
Woody Wommack, Southeast: It's hard to argue with what
Thomas Tyner is doing out on the West Coast right now. There were a lot of
questions surrounding his ability to stay healthy coming into the year, and he
has responded with a dominant first half of the year. While the competition he's
facing isn't exactly great, the numbers he's putting up and the way he's doing
it is very impressive.
do you think is the most overrated factor in recruiting -- something the outside
world thinks matters to prospects when in reality it does not?
Mike Farrell, National: I'm going to be cynical here because it's in my
nature and say academics. This doesn't mean across the board, but I think the
majority of kids could care less about what academic reputation a school has,
what major a school has that they are interested in and they have trouble
thinking beyond football. That's what makes it great to cover kids who really
take the academic part of things seriously and don't just pick a team based on
the uniforms or facilities.
Rob Cassidy, West: This is the obvious response, and I'm not even sure if
most fans are fooled into thinking it matters. Still, every time a top-level
prospect tells me he's basing his decision primarily on "academics," my eyes
automatically roll. It's a nice thing to say. I'm sure it makes mom and dad very
proud of their child, but does anybody actually believe it? For better or worse,
big-time players are going to college to major in football. USC could
replace its teachers with hand-me-down Speak and Spells, and it would have next
to no impact on the top of its recruiting class. Kids want to win games, work
out in nice facilities with coaches they like, share a campus with pretty girls
and get to the NFL. The end.
There are exceptions, sure, but believing most high school stars are breaking
down course catalogues is naive. Now, let's talk about something important ...
Kynon Codrington, Southeast: I think if I team loses a game with official
visitors on campus it's not as big of a deal as the outside world perceives.
More and more recruits eye the depth chart and early playing time as the biggest
factors in their recruitment. If they are on a visit and the team loses that
doesn't effect what the program has to offer.
Adam Gorney, West: This might sound odd but promised early playing time
is way overdone. These prospects are savvy enough to know nothing will be given
away for free and when coaches talk about guarantees to see the field early on
it could be seen as trite.
Recruits know how things work. They might not know everything but when they're
told that they'll definitely see the field right when they get on campus it's
almost like a "yeah, sure" response and it could turn some prospects off.
Josh Helmholdt, Midwest: The outcome of a particular game -- even if it
is one a prospect is attending. Atmosphere of that game matters. The vibe a
player gets while on campus matters, but if the team wins big, or loses, the
outcome does not matter. Prospects factor the future of a program into their
college decisions, not the present, so the final score of a big rivalry game or
a game the recruit is in the stands for has little to no effect on their final
decision. Recruits commit after seeing a team lose all the time.
Jason Howell, Southwest: After last week's loss to Kansas State
there were a lot of questions about how recruits in for Oklahoma's big
visit weekend react. Truth is most of the recruits did not mind. I'm going to
say a loss on a visit weekend does not matter as much to recruits as some think.
If it is a program on the rise, maybe it means more, but when you are talking
about Oklahoma, Florida State, Texas, USC, Ohio State
or a program that has shown in one way or another they are moving in the right
direction prospects are going to overlook it
Woody Wommack, Southeast: Uniforms. While most recruits and players enjoy
sporting new unis, I don't think there's ever going to be a top recruit who
commits to a school just because they have cool uniforms. Fans get excited every
time their school gets new uniforms and assume it's going to have an instant
impact on recruiting. But if every school has 4-5 variations that they break out
every season, does anyone really have an advantage?
Looking ahead to October, what's the best one-on-one prospect battle
looming in a future game?
Mike Farrell, National: I am looking forward to seeing four-star
linebacker Yannick Ngakoue from Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate
Academy try to handle Paramus (N.J.) Paramus Catholic 2014 star
Jabrill Peppers who plays running back and defensive back for his team. Peppers is
a top five or 10 player nationally next year and Ngakoue is a heckuva athlete so it
should be a good matchup.
Rob Cassidy, West: They play very different positions, but it will be
interesting to watch Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, led by Arizona
quarterback commit Anu Solomon, take on a Centennial High defense
anchored by BYU-bound linebacker Trajan Pili, who is making a
push toward four-star status. The game itself probably won't be close. Gorman is
the much better team. Pill and Soloman will come face to face on a number of
occasions, though. Those moments will bring plenty of excitement regardless of
the score. The game will take place at Centennial on Oct. 19.
Kynon Codrington, Southeast: I'm looking forward to the October 10
match-up between Oakland Park (Fla.) Northeast wide receiver
Stacy Coley against Pompano Beach (Fla.) Ely defensive back
Rashard Robinson. Both players are ranked in the Rivals250 and this should be a
great battle. Robinson is the faster of the two, but Coley is a difference maker
on offense, defense and special teams.
Adam Gorney, West: Gardena Serra visits Los Angeles Cathedral in
mid-October and I'm really looking forward to that one.
LSU quarterback commit
Hayden Rettig has a lot of weapons
especially at wide receiver but Gardena Serra is loaded at cornerback especially
with 2014 stud Adoree' Jackson. Plus, linebacker
Dwight Williams is aggressive and tough and Serra's defense is active and pursues
the ball well.
It could be a real test for Rettig and his team that have put up huge numbers
Josh Helmholdt, Midwest: There is going to be an interesting prospect vs.
prospect matchup on Oct. 12 when Rivals100 wide receiver Shelton Gibson
and his Cleveland Heights team takes on Warren (Ohio) Harding and
Michigan State commit
Jalyn Powell. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Powell lines up
all over the field for Harding, but I expect him to see plenty of man coverage
on the 6-foot-1, 175-pound Gibson because you need your best athlete to stop
Gibson from the big plays he has shown many times over the course of this
However the match-up that has me most pumped is Deoundrei Davis vs.
Keith Ford. It's going to be future Longhorn linebacker trying to stop
future Sooner running back in a district match-up. I think we will see plenty of
head-to-head meetings between these two this year and in years to come.
Woody Wommack, Southeast: When Fort Valley (Ga.) Peach County and Macon
(Ga.) Central meet on Oct. 19, two of Georgia's best prospects will square off.
Clemson wide reciever commit Demarcus Robinson (Peach County)
and Vanderbilt linebacker commit Nigel Bowden (Central) figure
to see plenty of each other, especially when Robinson goes over the middle. Both
players are the only real prospects on their team and, even though they won't be
going head-to-head the whole game, they're each the leaders of their respective