February 26, 2009

Ask Jamie: Another recruiting power in Alabama?

Jamie Newberg is a football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags:
Feb 19: More top talent out of Alabama?
Feb 12: Best back in 2010 class?
Jan 29: Tracking the tight races
Can Auburn's new staff turn the Tigers into a recruiting power? Is Christian Green the class of 2010's Russell Shepard? If Bryce Brown were to sign with LSU, would that catapult the Tigers over Alabama for the top spot?

We respond to those questions and more in this week's recruiting mailbag.

Jamie's Mailbag
In-state focus

Considering that the new Auburn staff put together a top-20 class in a short amount of time and with two vacant coaching positions, what are the chances the new, completed staff puts together a top-10 class in 2010 with the likes of top-25 recruiters Trooper Taylor, Curtis Luper and Tommy Thigpen?

-- Bryan from New Jersey
New Auburn coach Gene Chizik quietly put together a good staff. Coordinators Gus Malzahn and Ted Roof can recruit, and the Tigers also have the three assistants you mentioned and other good recruiters such as Phillip Lolley and Tracy Rocker. Thigpen was hired after National Signing Day and was one of the top recruiters in the ACC for North Carolina.

The one thing Auburn has to improve on is its in-state recruiting. Alabama has dominated in-state in the past two years; Auburn has not signed one top-10 in-state prospect in that time, while Alabama has signed 15 of 20. This is one area where the Tigers have to do a better job. When or if that happens, the higher rankings will come.

New No. 1?

Now that Bryce Brown has announced his intentions of taking an unofficial visit to LSU, what are the chances he signs with the Tigers? In that scenario, would LSU vault back ahead of Alabama for the top recruiting class?

-- Chuck from Pensacola, Fla.
Brown, the nation's top prospect, is scheduled to visit LSU this weekend for an unofficial visit and Miami the following weekend before making his decision March 16.

Even if Brown were to sign with the Tigers, LSU would be 19 points behind Alabama. LSU losing wide receivers DeAngelo Benton and Kenny Bell (to Auburn and Alabama, respectively) on NSD and cornerback Janzen Jackson to Tennessee the day after really cost the Tigers that is, if you are into the team recruiting rankings. They still signed a heck of a class.

For what it's worth, I still believe Brown signs with Miami.

Keeping them home

With the recent announcement that James Franklin is the coach-in-waiting at Maryland, will this help the Terps keep the high-profile local recruits in-state?

-- James from Baltimore
It should help. Franklin loves recruiting and works hard at it. Overall, he has worked at Maryland for five seasons, and he has developed some great relationships with both local and state high school coaches.

This is his second stint at Maryland, and when he wasn't there, the Terps didn't recruit as well in-state as they did when he was an assistant at Maryland.

This year, Maryland finished fifth in the ACC and No. 26 overall in the recruiting rankings. He was the Terps' top recruiter and one of the better ones in the league. He signed 11 players, seven of whom are from Maryland and two from Washington, D.C.

Green comparison

Is Tampa's Christian Green this year's Russell Shepard?

-- R.J.G. from Batavia, Ill.
I believe Shepard was the most electrifying recruit in the nation in the class of 2009. Green, from Tampa (Fla.) Catholic, is an electrifying prospect for the class of 2010.

He's bigger and has a better arm than Shepard, but Shepard is slightly faster and quicker.

I saw Green play twice late last season and was impressed by his athletic ability. While I think he can be a quarterback at the next level in the right system, he has the most upside as a receiver. Green has good hands and had 10 touchdown receptions as a freshman before moving to quarterback as a sophomore. He is so dangerous with the ball, especially in space. He has the ability to make people miss and has a great burst and another gear.

At this time, I think Green is a candidate to be a national top-50 prospect, and it will be interesting to see if he sticks at quarterback or moves to receiver this fall. The current backup quarterback at Tampa (Fla.) Catholic is Doug Williams Jr. If he's ready, it's likely Green will move back to wide receiver.

Better recruiting staff?

Which is better for recruiting: a stable coaching staff with no changes or a constantly changing staff that has assistants hired away to be head coaches by other programs?

-- Jonathan from Lewis Center, Ohio
It depends. If you are a coach (Pete Carroll) and have assistants move on to head-coaching positions elsewhere (Ed Orgeron, Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian), it can enhance your recruiting pitch. At the same time, you want stability on your staff for a variety of reasons.

I would prefer to have a stable staff but one that also can adapt to the changing times of recruiting. That's the key.

Above all, recruiting is about relationships and that will never change. But you still have to keep up with the times.

Three for Charles

Where will Tampa (Fla.) Plant wide receiver/tight end Orson Charles end up signing?

-- Steve from Savannah, Ga.
It's too close to call among Georgia, Tennessee and USC. Charles took his last official visit, to USC, this past weekend, and narrowed it to those schools after eliminating Florida.

He told me in a text message that he hopes to make his decision March 6.

I have thought for the past month or so that Georgia is the team to beat, and I still favor the Bulldogs. But I know Tennessee made a good impression on him and that he also liked USC.

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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