October 21, 2009

Ask Jamie: Luc to leave the state?

Jamie Newberg is a football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags:
Oct 14: FSU falling out of favor?
Oct 7: Big win boosts USF recruiting
Sept 30: UT missing on in-state stars?

What's the latest with linebacker Jeff Luc?

Could Tennessee be in position to beat Florida on another big-time recruit from the Sunshine State?

What's in store for Louisville, and do the Cardinals need to make a big-splash hire to help in recruiting?

Will Georgia make a coaching change on defense? If so, who should get the job and how will it affect recruiting?

Junior running back Isaiah Crowell will be one of the most sought-after backs in the nation for the Class of 2011. Who may have the early edge?

Find out in this week's mailbag.

Jamie's Mailbag
Luc leaning?

What is the latest with Jeff Luc? It sounds like he could leave the state and land in Knoxville.

-- Steve from Maryville, Tenn.
I have to admit I could have been dead wrong on Luc. For the longest time I thought he wouldn't leave the Sunshine State. Now it appears the nation's No. 2 linebacker prospect could be headed to the University of Tennessee.

First it seemed as though Luc favored Florida State, then it was Florida. Regardless, it appeared he would likely sign with either the Seminoles or Gators. The Vols, meanwhile, hung in there and did what they do well - show patience and recruit hard.

It started over the summer, when Luc camped at Tennessee and immediately hit it off with defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Tennessee running backs coach Eddie Gran, who recruits south Florida for the Vols, basically handed Luc off to Kiffin. Luc stayed in contact with Kiffin and visited Tennessee for an official visit earlier this month (Oct. 2).

Did that official visit cement it for the Volunteers? Some say it has. Others believe there are three other teams - Florida, Florida State and USC - still in the mix. Luc may visit USC this weekend for an official visit. If that happens, I wouldn't exactly rule out the Trojans. Meanwhile, you also have Florida State hanging around hoping Luc will hold out until the Seminoles rectify things in Tallahassee.

Then there is a faction out there that swears Luc is staying in state and will sign with Florida for the same reasons he favors Tennessee: his relationship with the defensive coordinator - Charlie Strong - is solid.

What's Luc saying? Nothing. And that is why this one has been so intriguing, because Luc has never divulged much, if anything, in regards to recruiting and his school favorites.

The bottom line: Luc has given off good vibes to both the Vols and Gators. What will he do in the end? It's too close to call, but Tennessee just may be in position to steal another recruit from the Gators.

Change at Louisville?

I saw that Louisville wants Jon Gruden as its coach. Could that create a similar buzz in recruiting circles as the Lane Kiffin, Butch Davis and Nick Saban hires? Or has Louisville just fallen too quickly?

-- Dave from Pittsburgh
It's his third season at Louisville, and the Steve Kragthorpe regime has been a disappointment. I guess that's an understatement considering where the previous coach (Bobby Petrino) took the Cardinals. Petrino set the bar high, and Kragthorpe has not delivered.

It appears the Big East has gotten stronger, and the Cardinals haven't kept pace. Cincinnati has become the dominant team. USF has a promising future, while Rutgers made a lot noise a few years back. Then you have West Virginia, which has been the most consistent team. A coaching change at Syracuse will have the Orange up for the challenge soon, while UConn and Pitt continue to make progress.

This league is getting better. But can the same be said for Louisville? It seems as though athletic director Tom Jurich will make a coaching change. While most Cardinals fans would love a big splash, it needs to be more of the right fit. Syracuse hired Doug Marrone. That was a nice splash but an even better fit.

Jurich's sites are set on two big-name coaches in Gruden and Tommy Tuberville. Either one of these coaches would give the program plenty of headlines. The question is will there be enough draw to lure either one?

Gruden will be linked to every future NFL opening, and I find it highly improbable that he lands in Louisville. On the other hand, I think Tuberville could be had. He wants to get back into coaching, and he would be a big splash and a nice fit for the Cardinals. A name like that would certainly help bring a ton of recruits to the Louisville program.

Issues in Athens

With all the coaching turmoil in the Georgia program, what kind of impact will this have on recruiting top talent - as well as keeping some of the top recruits already committed to UGa?

-- Jesus from Atlanta
This is not something that was expected and, to be honest, it's shocking how poorly the Georgia defense has played. That side of the ball has been on a slow decline since Brian Van Gorder left his defensive coordinator post in Athens back in 2004.

Fans want a change, but will Georgia coach Mark Richt make one? Some think he has to, while others believe he will stand pat.

And if current defensive coordinator Willie Martinez is let go, who gets the job? Perhaps Georgia defensive line coach Rodney Garner should finally get his opportunity. And why not? The guy deserves his shot.

If Richt doesn't make a change or passes Garner over, he could walk and leave the program. That could be potentially devastating to Georgia recruiting, because Garner has earned the reputation as being one of the nation's finest recruiters over the years.

Now Georgia, along with (probably) every other team, will have to survive the upcoming recruiting storm of committed players taking visits. No team is immune to this. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see defensive linemen T.J. Stripling and Garrison Smith make official visits to other schools. Still, at this time, I can't see any of the Georgia commitments leaving for another school unless there's a complete collapse between now and the end of the season.

I think, more than anything, the question could be directed toward the Class of 2011, especially on the defensive side of the ball. With Florida, Auburn, Kentucky and Georgia Tech still on the schedule, Georgia could finish somewhere in the neighborhood of 6-6 to 8-4 in 2009.

For Georgia, that's not a good season. With their struggles on defense, it could hinder their recruiting efforts next season or at least make things a little harder. It's hard enough with most teams in the SEC trying to pluck players away from the Peach State. Richt doesn't want to give his rivals any more ammo, and priority No. 1 should be to address his defense. If a change is made, Garner should be given a shot. That could kill two birds with one stone.

Crowell coming on

I hear Isaiah Crowell is having a tremendous season. Can LSU land him in Baton Rouge? Where do you see him being ranked next season?

-- Scotty from Metairie, La.
One of the nation's top running back prospects for the Class of 2011 will be Crowell of Columbus (Ga.) Carver.

Crowell, now 6 feet and 208 pounds, has been highly sought-after for a year and a half. As the steady stream of college coaches flocked to Carver to see then-rising seniors Jarvis Jones and LeRon Furr (both Class of 2009), Crowell emerged as one to watch. He got early verbal scholarship offers from national powers including LSU, Georgia, Florida, USC and others.

Now Crowell is midway through his junior campaign and he has already rushed for 722 yards on only 65 carries. In addition, he has 10 receptions for 502 yards. He has nine touchdowns in five games for Carver, which is 4-1.

Crowell is getting better and stronger as he matures. He has excellent balance and vision. Crowell also has good speed and excels at working his way through traffic. I would imagine, at this point, that he's a sure-fire candidate for the Rivals100 for the Class of 2011, and he should be at least a high four-star recruit next season.

Now Carver has had its share of high-profile recruits over the years, especially at running back. In fact, more than a decade ago, Carver produced Jasper Sanks (Georgia). Many believe Crowell has a chance to be an even bigger recruit.

The million-dollar question with Crowell, though, is will he end up in Athens like Sanks? It appears that Georgia is certainly in the thick of it at this point, along with Clemson, Florida and LSU. So yes, Scotty, your Tigers have a good shot here, but I think LSU will also be focused on what's in its own backyard, namely running back Kenny Hilliard. For now, I think Georgia could be the team to beat here.

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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