October 14, 2009

Ask Jamie: FSU falling out of favor with recruits?

Jamie Newberg is a football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags:
Oct 7: Big win boosts USF recruiting
Sept 30: UT missing on in-state stars?
Sept 23: What's left for Florida State?

Just how much traction has Florida State lost with some high-end prospects? What do the Seminoles need to do to rectify the situation?

What's the latest on Pahokee (Fla.) wide receiver Chris Dunkley?

Why is Alabama focusing hard on out-of-state recruiting? Should the rest of the country be worried?

Who does Cal have a shot to close with down the stretch?

Find out in this week's mailbag.

Jamie's Mailbag
FSU falling behind?

Now that Florida State is in a downward spiral, doesn't FSU need to make a public statement giving Jimbo Fisher full control after this season? This may help recruiting, don't you think?

-- Jeremy from Tallahassee, Fla.
At this point I think that would be a huge help to Florida State's recruiting. The way I see it, the Seminoles are losing traction on many of the elite prospects who they were once in a very good position to land.

Who am I specifically talking about? Six weeks or so ago, FSU was in great shape with linebackers Jeff Luc and Christian Jones, wide receivers Christian Green and Kenny Shaw, and cornerbacks LaMarcus Joyner and Terrence Mitchell. Now things have really tightened up to the point where the 'Noles find themselves even or trailing with these recruits (with the exception of Shaw).

Luc could be headed to Gainesville, while Jones now says Florida and FSU are his co-leaders. It looks like Georgia and Florida have pulled ahead for Green. Ohio State is the leader for Joyner, and FSU has moved back in the pack with Mitchell. I don't think you can chalk up all those changes as pure coincidence.

In addition, offensive tackle prospect Ed Christian has decommitted, while defensive line prospects Darious Cummings and Tavaris Barnes will now visit other schools.

Should Florida State's current recruiting situation sound some alarms? Yes, and FSU needs to adjust accordingly. Clearly everyone the 'Noles are recruiting knows Fisher is the next head coach. The part in question is when he will take over. Will Fisher be given complete control? When will Fisher be allowed to hire his coaches and what coaches will they be?

Until these questions are answered, Florida State will continue to try and recruit with one hand tied behind its back. It's Fisher and assistant coaches James Coley and Lawrence Dawsey handling a majority of the Seminoles' recruiting responsibilities. Three coaches against the entire staffs of Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio State, etc. is a daunting task, especially when you consider FSU is not playing well and is dealing with all the off-the-field noise and dissention surrounding this proud program. Also, all of the defensive prospects have no idea who will be their coordinator and position coach. How much longer can FSU tell kids to "be patient" and "hang in there"?

Nobody wants to see Bobby Bowden exit the college game this way. Nobody. But something needs to be said and done in Tallahassee one way or another. The uncertainty regarding this staff needs to be answered and settled. It's having a big-time effect on FSU's recruiting. But it's only mid-October and things can certainly be turned around for the better.

In the meantime, the vultures are circling, and when it comes to recruiting, it's survival of the fittest. Right now, Florida State is wounded and bleeding - with its rivals ready to pounce for the kill.

'Bama branching out

How is Nick Saban landing so many out-of-state recruits this season?

-- Jerry from Burlington, N.C.
Alabama is rolling with another top-10 recruiting class. Of the Crimson Tide's 21 commitments, 13 are from out of state. That tells me a few things.

First, it's a good year in the state of Alabama, but it's not what we have seen the past two years. The Tide cleaned up the past two years in Alabama, which was absolutely loaded with talent, landing five-star standouts like offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, wide receiver Julio Jones, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and linebacker Nico Johnson, as well as a plethora of super-talented four-star prospects. Alabama dominated recruiting within the state, but that's going to get a little tougher because of the new regime at Auburn. We are already seeing a little dent from the Tigers.

Second, Alabama is back as a national power on the field. They narrowly lost to Florida in the SEC title game in December. Despite some key losses to the NFL, the Tide look as strong as ever and they have a No. 2 national ranking. In fact, you could make a great argument that Alabama is the top team in the country right now.

Third, Saban and his program have finished with back-to-back top-ranked recruiting classes. They have stockpiled talent, and prospects from all over the nation realize that Alabama is now a national recruiting power.

So, the Tide now can take their chances and not only go out of state but also out of the region to pull in kids like quarterback Phillip Sims (Virginia) and wide receiver DeAndrew White (Texas). The Crimson Tide have always recruited the Peach State well under Saban, and this season is no different. So far, four prospects have committed to Alabama from the state of Georgia. And you can bet the Tide will be very active in Florida, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana when it comes to recruiting. Already they have commitments from four players from those states.

The bottom line: Saban turned around the Tide quickly - very quickly - and they are only going to get better and better. Off the field, Alabama has recruited lights-out the past two years and is working on making it three in a row.

I think it's safe to say that as long as Saban is running the show in Tuscaloosa, the Tide will be a dominant recruiting power in their home state, the Southeast and beyond.

Latest on Dunkley

What is the latest with Chris Dunkley, who at one point was an alleged Florida lean but now seems to be more open. Is he leaning anywhere at this point in the process?

-- Brandon from Indianapolis
I traded some emails with Dunkley on Monday evening and, according to Dunkley, he's open. He had a good (official) visit to Georgia (Oct. 2) the weekend they played LSU. Dunkley said he will visit Alabama (Nov. 6) when it plays host to LSU. He said he's considering Florida, West Virginia, Miami and USC for his remaining three visits.

Dunkley, a four-star receiver from Pahokee, Fla., has been considered a long-time lean to the Gators but claims he's open. I wouldn't rule out Tennessee with him at this time, either, simply because of his friendship with current Vols freshman wide receiver Nu'Keese Richardson.

Cal closing strong?

How do you see Cal closing out its class? Do the Bears have a realistic shot at Chris Martin? What running back and wide receiver left on their board do they land?

-- Brent from Sunnyvale, Calif.
It's not a big class for Jeff Tedford and his Bears, but there is some star power headed their way. Quarterback Austin Hinder, wide receivers Tevin Carter and Davon Dunn, and linebackers Nick Forbes, Cecil Whiteside and David Wilkerson are all four-star standouts.

Cal should close well, and the Bears are in good position in the trenches with defensive ends Gabe King and Owamagbe Odighizuwa, defensive tackles Cassius Marsh and George Uko and offensive lineman Roszell Gayden. Uko visited Cal in early September, while King, Marsh and Odighizuwa all visited the Bears officially in early October for the USC game. That would be quite a haul for Tedford and Co.

Right now in terms of running backs they may have the best shot with Jordon James. James, like most of the others above, visited the Bears when they lost to the Trojans a few weeks ago. In regards to receivers, it seems like they are on a handful and it's still unclear who they may have the best shot at landing.

Jamie Newberg is a recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. Click here to send him a question or comment for his mailbag.

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