January 8, 2009

Ask Jamie: Can Shepard be LSU's QB?

Jamie Newberg is a football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags:
Dec 25: Focus shifts for Seminole stars
Dec 18: Will Monte Kiffin recruit?
Dec 11: Who's winning in SEC recruiting?
What kind of prospect will wide receiver Duron Carter be at Ohio State? Just how good is cornerback Greg Reid?

Can Russell Shepard play quarterback at LSU? What's up with Purdue and its recruiting efforts?

We break it down in this week's recruiting mailbag.

Jamie's Mailbag
Carter's potential

I see so many different ratings for Duron Carter. What do you think of him and how will he do at Ohio State?

-- Danny from Akron, Ohio
After seeing three practices in Orlando for the Under Armour game, I am convinced that Carter is one of the top wide receivers in the nation. Carter, from powerhouse Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St., Thomas Aquinas, is an Ohio State commitment and the son of Cris Carter, a former Ohio State and NFL standout.

The knock on Carter is his lack of speed. While he's not a speed demon, he finds ways to get open and make plays. It didn't matter who was covering him in Orlando, Carter would make the catch.

He's a terrific route runner, especially for a high school player. Carter has good size (6 feet 3/183 pounds) and great hands, and can make the circus catch look routine. Against faster cornerbacks, he would beat his man, whether it was a long, short or intermediate route.

Barring injury, Carter has a chance to become a special player at Ohio State.

Getting a read on Reid

Just how good was Greg Reid at the Under Armour game, and do you think he will sign with Florida?

-- Bob from Lake City, Fla.
If Carter was the big surprise offensively in Orlando, Reid would get that distinction on defense playing cornerback.

Reid, from Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes, was stellar from the first moment he stepped on the practice field. The only thing Reid (5-9/175) lacks is ideal height. He has everything else to be a star cornerback: He can flip his hips, backpedal, change direction, accelerate and break on the ball. He's tough and doesn't back down. Reid is aggressive in the air and more than held his own against receivers who were anywhere from three to nine inches taller.

Going into last week, Reid was committed to Florida. But Reid has re-opened his recruiting to make sure he made the correct decision. He committed very early in the process and just wants to make sure. Expect Reid to visit Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi State. He says his decision will come on National Signing Day; right now, I believe that Florida still is the team to beat.

Position switch?

Do you think Russell Shepard will be an effective quarterback at LSU?

-- Stevie from Bastrop, La.
I believe Russell Shepard, from Houston Cypress Ridge, is a special talent. To me, he's a dynamic athlete and a unique player with the ball in his hands. I first saw film of Shepard about this time last year and thought he would have a chance to be the most electrifying prospect in this class. With all due respect to playmakers such as Andre Debose, I think Shepard is the most electrifying recruit in the country. As a runner, Shepard has Michael Vick ability, with blazing speed, super quickness and an incredible first step. He can accelerate to full speed in a blink of an eye and is so dangerous in space. Shepard can dance his way out of trouble in the pocket and make a play. Shepard is the top-ranked dual-threat quarterback prospect in the country and he's headed to LSU.

Still, he has a lot to work to do. Russell needs to strengthen his arm and work on his reads, decision-making and overall fundamentals of the position. It's going to take time and he will be a work in progress in Baton Rouge as a quarterback.

I truly believe he has the most upside as a receiver. He could make an immediate impact as that position, even at LSU.

Focus on Florida

What's up with Purdue and its recruiting efforts?

-- Mike from Chicago
The Boilermakers are sitting on 17 commitments, with 11 from Florida.

The Boilermakers are putting a renewed recruiting emphasis on speed and athleticism, and they have done a nice job in the Sunshine State. Perhaps the headliner of the class is running back Al-Terek McBurse, from the Orlando suburb of Winter Springs. McBurse had a terrific senior season, rushing for more than 2,300 yards and averaging about 13 yards per carry. He's already on campus and will have a chance to make an immediate impact in West Lafayette.

Other Florida standouts headed to Purdue include athletes Ishmael Aristide (Orlando Evans) and Josh Johnson (Dade City Pasco), defensive end Antwon Higgs (Pompano Beach High) and wide receivers Gary Bush (Miami Columbus) and Xavier Reese (Oakland Park Northeast). The Boilermakers also landed three good ones from the Peach State, including linebacker Shayon Green (Tifton Tift County) and defensive tackle Eric McDaniel (Calhoun High).

Purdue has landed some nice athletes at their respective positions. These guys can run and they filled in some needs nicely. It might not be a highly ranked group, but it still will help the program improve.

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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