What's up with Oregon – they seem to be Duck hunting everywhere, especially in the South. What should we expect from Florida State this recruiting season? Why does Notre Dame have such a difficult time recruiting defensive tackles? Who's the top quarterback prospect on the South Carolina board and can the Gamecocks land him? And is south Florida talent really that good?
We delve into those questions in this week's recruiting mailbag.
Who else besides Rivals250 running back Ethan Grant do you see Oregon pulling out of Florida this year? It seems like the Ducks are in the top group for a lot of quality prospects down there and in other Southern states.
-- Jackson from Wyoming
By my count, Oregon already has offered two dozen Southern prospects, including 10 from south Florida alone, and has a commitment from speedy running back Ethan Grant from Coconut Creek (Fla.) North Broward Prep.
Defensive end David Perry (Fort Lauderdale University School) and wide receivers Ted Meline (Miami Booker T. Washington) and Ivan McCartney (Miramar High) are south Florida standouts showing great interest in Oregon. I would expect that this trio will at least visit Oregon, and don't be surprised if the Ducks land Perry.
Meanwhile, offensive tackle prospect Jawuan James of Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett recently visited Oregon and said the Ducks definitely are in the mix.
The Ducks' current roster has four players from the Southeast, though one – running back LeGarrette Blount – is a Floridian who signed out of junior college. So, why the sudden interest in recruiting the Southeast? New coach Chip Kelly believes Oregon can recruit nationally. I, too, think Oregon should have a national presence, and with the backing of Nike, outstanding facilities, a solid coaching staff and playing in the wide-open Pac-10, you would think that this will be a successful recruiting formula for Oregon.
Star-studded Seminole class?
What size class do you see Florida State signing in February, and what big names are high on FSU's radar?
-- Nick from Tucson, Ariz.
Look for FSU to sign 20-22 players in February. The Seminoles have three commitments in defensive back Chad Abrams from Lakeland (Fla.) High, offensive lineman Ed Christian of Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes and defensive end Darious Cummings of Titusville (Fla.) Astronaut.
It's still early in the recruiting season. New names will surface, and some of the names above will end up elsewhere. Regardless, I expect big things from the Seminoles in recruiting, especially with the NCAA sanctions behind them.
Here's a puzzle: Why can't Notre Dame land defensive tackles?
-- Joe from Chicago
Notre Dame has signed a total of just five defensive tackles in its past six recruiting classes. In the 2004, '05 and '06 classes, the Fighting Irish signed zero defensive tackles and only six defensive ends. Let's compare some of the past national title holders in the same time period: Florida has signed 10 defensive tackles, LSU 13, Texas 11 and USC eight.
Academics have something to do with the Irish's woes at the position, as their pool of prospects isn't as large as most of the teams in college football. If you look at some other schools in the same academic boat – Duke, Boston College, Stanford, Vanderbilt – only BC, with seven, has signed more defensive tackles than Notre Dame in that span.
Defensive tackles are hard to come by and one of the hardest positions to recruit. And the percentage of elite defensive tackles who are just as elite in the classroom is small. This puts schools such as Notre Dame in a tight spot.
Carolina QB search
Which quarterback does South Carolina have the best shot at landing this recruiting season?
-- Tommy from Spartanburg, S.C.
Right now, the guy atop the South Carolina quarterback board is Connor Shaw, from Flowery Branch (Ga.) High. He also has been offered by Georgia Tech, Stanford, East Carolina, West Virginia and Wake Forest.
G.A. Mangus, South Carolina's new quarterback coach, recruited Shaw's brother, Jaybo, to Middle Tennessee before losing him to Georgia Tech. Along the way, Mangus became close to the Shaws, including Connor. Connor Shaw has been to Columbia and will attend South Carolina's spring game.
Better and better
A few months back, I asked you how the 2010 class in south Florida stacked up to the great 2008 class. You said you felt 2010 was deeper. Have the first couple of months evaluating the 2010 class changed your mind, or has it solidified the opinion you had last year?
-- Nick from Florida
The more I look and evaluate this 2010 south Florida class, the more I'm amazed. This group is stacked at the top and is so deep. There are 11 south Florida prospects in the Rivals100 and 25 in the Rivals250. The nation's top athlete (Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer's Matt Elam), linebacker (Port St. Lucie Treasure Coast's Jeff Luc) and cornerback (Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas' Lamarcus Joyner) are from south Florida.
Right now, I think this is a better group than the one from two years ago.