Can Florida put together a top-five class this season? Can David Cutcliffe elevate Duke's recruiting? Just how good is running back Malcolm Jones – and where will he sign? How much talent is in Iowa this season?
We'll answer those questions in this week's recruiting mailbag.
Targeting top talent
After a solid yet unspectacular 2009 class, is Urban Meyer and Florida going to have a top-five class this year or has the momentum slowed and the days of top-five classes are at an end?
-- Paul from Bluffton, Fla.
If there is one team not to worry about this recruiting cycle, it's Florida.
The Gators are readying themselves for a big-time class and are off to a great start with quarterback Trey Burton from Venice (Fla.) High, tight end Michael McFarland of Tampa Blake, offensive lineman Ian Silberman of Orange Park (Fla.) Fleming Island and defensive backs Matt Elam of Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) Dwyer, Jonathan Dowling of Bradenton (Fla.) Southeast, Demar Dorsey of Lauderdale Lakes (Fla.) Boyd Anderson and Victor Hampton of Charlotte (N.C.) Independence. Elam, Dowling and Hampton are Rivals100 recruits, with Elam a five-star prospect.
Typically, you see the greatest impact from a national title the following recruiting cycle. That's this year for the Gators. Even more beneficial could be what Florida does on the field this season. The Gators have a chance to start off as the preseason No. 1.
Another boost for the Gators is that the Sunshine State is loaded this season and Florida will have a full complement of scholarships.
The staff works hard and is good when it comes to recruiting. All the pieces are in place for another outstanding class in Gainesville.
The next step
Do you think Duke can keep up in recruiting? Are the academics too hard to recruit four- and five-star prospects consistently?
-- Rusty from Richmond, Va.
Duke recruits from a smaller pool than most because of their academics. Second, Duke is known as a basketball school. The right leadership is needed, and I believe David Cutcliffe is the right guy to lead this program.
Cutcliffe and his staff will work hard at recruiting and they will recruit better, I believe, this year than last. But I wouldn't expect the Blue Devils' recruiting class to be filled with four-star recruits just yet.
The end game in recruiting will be a result of how they fare on the field. Duke has to win. Once it does that, they will start earning respect and can recruit consistently.
It's a double-edged sword because you can't win without players. But it's hard to win without players.
As with other teams of their ilk, it will come down to evaluations for the Blue Devils; there certainly are plenty of two- and three-star recruits who can prosper in college football.
Big year in Iowa
This might be the most high school talent ever in Iowa. Who would you pick as your top player in Iowa for 2010?
-- Troy from Des Moines, Iowa
It is a good year in Iowa. Currently, there are seven in-state prospects with scholarship offers. Of the seven, two made the initial Rivals250 list: quarterback A.J. Derby of Iowa City High at No. 127 and running back Andre Dawson of Cedar Rapids Washington at No. 225.
Derby has offers from schools such as Iowa, Florida State, Illinois, Nebraska, Stanford, Alabama and Wisconsin. Last season, he rushed and passed for more than 1,000 yards and accounted for 24 touchdowns. Dawson has rushed for more than 2,800 yards and 40 touchdowns in the past two seasons; he has offers from Iowa, Illinois, Kansas and Wisconsin. He's a big back (210 pounds) who runs with power and shows good vision in the hole.
Others to watch are quarterback Zach McCabe (Sioux City Bishop Heelan), offensive linemen James Kohler (Ames High) and Brandon Scherff (Denison High) and linebacker James Morris (Solon High). Morris is a physical and active prospect who has committed to Iowa.
Battle for Jones
How good is Malcolm Jones? Is he a five-star candidate? And what are the chances he goes to Stanford?
-- Matt from Los Altos, Calif.
In our first Rivals100 release, Jones, from Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian, is a five-star prospect. He is the No. 4 running back and the No. 11 prospect. Jones is 210 pounds, and has the ability to make people miss, whether in the hole or in space. He's a big-play guy all the way.
Who has the inside track? It's hard to say. He recently attended "Junior Days" at USC, UCLA and Stanford; all three have offered, as well as Colorado, Arizona and Oregon. I think Stanford has as good a shot as any, especially if teammate Nick Montana ends up with the Cardinal. Still, USC could be the team to beat, especially with older brother Marshall already at USC.