December 4, 2008

Ask Jamie: Michigan moves in on Florida's best

Jamie Newberg is a football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags:
Nov 27: Will losses hurt LSU recruiting?
Nov 20: NU's RB search goes south
Nov 13: Making the Rivals100 cut

How well did Mike Shula recruit while the head coach at Alabama? Why doesn't Penn State recruit nationally? Can Michigan land one of the top Class of 2010 prospects in the state of Florida?

We examine those issues in this week's recruiting mailbag.

Jamie's Mailbag
Good mix

What does it say about the recruiting efforts of Mike Shula while at Alabama that the Tide is in the SEC Championship Game, ranked No. 1 in the country and in position to win a national championship? Half this Alabama team is players he recruited.

-- Henry from Tuscaloosa, Ala.
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I said it before and I will say it again: Mike Shula recruited pretty darn well while he was coach at Alabama. Each of his final three classes at Alabama finished in the top 18 nationally and his classes in 2004, '05 and '06 each finished fifth in the SEC. That may not sound high but that's not too bad in that league, especially considering Alabama finished 11th, 18th and 15th nationally in those years.

The nucleus of this outstanding Crimson Tide team is players he recruited. To me, the strength of this team is in the trenches, especially on the offensive line. Tackles Andre Smith (2006) and Drew Davis (2006), guards Mike Johnson (2005) and Marlon Davis (2005) and center Antoine Caldwell (2004) were all part of recruiting classes under Shula. Quarterback John Parker Wilson (2005), running back Glen Coffee (2005) and tight end Travis McCall (2005) are Shula guys.

Defensively, ends Bobby Greenwood (2005), Lorenzo Washington (2005) and Brandon Deaderick (2005), linebackers Cory Reamer (2005), Rolando McClain (2006) and Brandon Fanney (2005) and defensive backs Javier Arenas (2006), Justin Woodall (2006) and Rashad Johnson (2004) were Shula signees.

One problem: Shula couldn't get it done on Saturdays. Enter Nick Saban. Saban has done a magnificent job on several fronts. First, he and his staff have recruited lights out. Next, he has done a great job of blending the veteran players with the outstanding young talent he has assembled. Saban recruits such as wide receiver Julio Jones, running back Mark Ingram, defensive tackle Terrence Cody, defensive end Luther Davis, linebacker Don'ta Hightower and cornerback Kareem Jackson have been outstanding.

National presence

Do you think the pending retirement of Joe Paterno is hurting Penn State recruiting? And why don't the Nittany Lions nationally recruit?

-- Evan from Fort Smith, Ark.
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We have been hearing about the "pending" retirements of Paterno and Florida State's Bobby Bowden for a while, yet neither school has suffered in recruiting.

The Nittany Lions have recruited well, and they will close well this season.

Penn State is blessed to be in a state that produces a lot of talent. In the past three years, Pennsylvania has produced 240-plus Division I prospects. There has been a resurgence in Pitt recruiting under Dave Wannstedt, making things harder in-state for the Nittany Lions. Still, there is plenty of talent to go around. Penn State recruits well in Maryland, the Northeast and the Midwest. It's a formula that has proved successful for Paterno over the years, so why change what has worked well?

Early leaders

Will 2010 prospect Marvin Robinson commit to Michigan?

-- Brandon from Ann Arbor, Mich.
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Michigan has to be considered one of the frontrunners for Robinson (6-2/195), a stellar prospect from Eagle Lake (Fla.) Lake Region. He will be one of the most coveted safeties in the Class of 2010.

I spoke with Robinson recently and he said four teams currently lead for him North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio State and Florida. He has been to each of the four unofficially and has a good head start on his evaluation and research.

Word through the grapevine is that Michigan is the team to beat. But National Signing Day is 14 months away for Robinson.

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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