March 4, 2009

Ask Jamie: Is Johnson a five-star WR?

Jamie Newberg is a football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags:
Feb 26: Another recruiting power in Ala.?
Feb 19: More top talent out of Alabama?
Feb 12: Best back in 2010 class?
How has Pete Carroll recruited at such a high level at USC for so long with so much coaching turnover? Who else is left on Texas' recruiting board?

Will a new school become a Miami pipeline in south Florida? And just how good is wide receiver De'Joshua Johnson from Pahokee, Fla.?

We answer those questions in this week's recruiting mailbag.

Jamie's Mailbag
Balancing act

How much, if any, did the departures from USC's coaching staff affect the Trojans' recruiting? And for the past few years, it seems USC always has five or so fewer total recruits than the other top programs. Have USC coaches balanced their scholarship distribution that evenly or is something else going on?

-- Eric from Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
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It's truly amazing to think about the coaching turnover Pete Carroll has had to deal with while at USC, yet his program remains the single most dominant recruiting power this decade. Ed Orgeron, Norm Chow, Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian, Kennedy Pola and Nick Holt are some of the assistants who have been in the program; not one assistant who started with Carroll in 2001 remains at USC.

Still, USC is the team when it comes to recruiting. It's about Carroll and the atmosphere he has built. It's about winning and a commitment to excellence. It's about producing great players and preparing those guys for the NFL. All these factors explain why Carroll and his ever-changing staff are so successful on the recruiting front.

In the past seven years, including this year, USC has finished in the nation's top 10 in recruiting, including three first-place finishes, one second, one third and one fourth. That's extraordinary. No one has been that dominant in recruiting for that length of time since Florida State in the '90s.

What makes where the Trojans have finished even more impressive are the numbers. Under Carroll, USC has signed just two "full" classes and has averaged only 21 signees per class since '02. That's what the numbers have dictated for Carroll. Many teams, especially in the Southeast, over-sign.

What's left?

With 20 commitments already, who is left for Texas?

-- Robert from Blacklick, Texas
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Texas is incredible in the way it recruits and the Longhorns again are off to a spectacular start. The Longhorns have 20 commitments and it's the first week in March.

Who's left out for coach Mack Brown and company? They have offered scholarships to running back Lache Seastrunk, wide receivers Darius White and Trovon Reed, offensive lineman Jake Matthews, defensive linemen Jackson Jeffcoat, Reggie Wilson and Torrea Peterson, cornerback Adrian White and athlete DeMarco Cobbs.

I'm not saying they will get these players, but they have a realistic shot at Seastrunk, Hicks, White, Jeffcoat, Wilson, White and Cobbs.

How many will Texas sign? It looks as if the Longhorns could land a full class and then some.

It's still early, prospects change their minds and there obviously will be others that Texas will pursue and offer.

Talent pipeline

Do you think Miami has the chance to create another high school pipeline, a la Miami Northwestern? Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas and/or Miami Booker T. Washington look to be strong candidates.

-- Dan from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
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I always have believed Miami has the biggest recruiting advantage in the nation because of the amount of talent in its backyard. And, usually, most of this talent wants to play for the Hurricanes. This fall, Miami will have roughly 40 players on its roster from three south Florida counties Miami-Dade, Broward (Fort Lauderdale) and Palm Beach (West Palm Beach, Belle Glade and Pahokee).

Those three counties absolutely are loaded with prospects this year, which is why I expect Miami to land one of the top classes in the country.

Schools such as Northwestern, St. Thomas Aquinas, Booker T. Washington and Miami Central are loaded, and Miami has a chance to get its share from those schools. UM already has commitments from defensive tackle Todd Chandler of Northwestern and wide receiver Quinton Dunbar of Washington.

The bottom line is that Miami's pipeline is the whole south Florida area.

Five-star WR?

After watching the highlights, in my opinion, Pahokee (Fla.) High's De'Joshua Johnson is the best wide receiver in 2010 and definitely a five-star recruit. Do you agree?

-- Cody from Roan Mountain, Tenn.
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No.

Wide receivers Darius White and Markeith Ambles are the likely early five-star receiver prospects in the class of 2010. While I believe Johnson is a big-time talent, he also is one of many elite receivers from south Florida.

Johnson is a big-play threat. I saw him play twice last season, and he shows great explosiveness and the ability to get behind a defense. Johnson has super speed and quickness, and he is dangerous with the ball in his hands. Two things I believe he needs to do get stronger and run better routes.

At this point, wide receiver is a strong position in Florida. But I feel confident in saying Johnson is one of the state's top prospects at the position.

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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