April 16, 2009

Ask Jamie: Top RB taking hard look at Auburn

Jamie Newberg is a football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags:
Apr 9: BC's new approach to recruiting
Apr 2: Oregon's talent search heads south
Mar 26: Who's California's top prospect?
Lache Seastrunk is the nation's top-rated running back and a five-star prospect. How good a shot does Auburn have with Seastrunk?

There already have been more than a dozen offensive line prospects offered a scholarship from the state of Ohio; just how good is this year's crop from the Buckeye State?

Why can't Kansas keep top in-state players at home? What happens with early enrollees and the national letter of intent?

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

Jamie's Mailbag
The Seastrunk sweepstakes

I am hearing running back Lache Seastrunk is high on Auburn. Have you been hearing the same?

-- Angie from Andalusia, Ala.
Yes, I am hearing the same. Auburn has come out of nowhere in the Seastrunk sweepstakes. Seastrunk, a five-star player from Temple (Texas) High, is the nation's No. 2 prospect, and Auburn is looking for a dynamic playmaker for their offense under new coordinator Gus Malzahn.

It was thought he would decide between Texas and LSU. But just like that, Auburn is a major player. In fact, there are some who believe Auburn has passed LSU and is drawing closer and closer to Texas.

Seastrunk took an unofficial visit to Auburn last weekend and all indications are that he had a good visit. He has grown close to Tigers running back coach Curtis Luper, whose father is Seastrunk's pastor in Temple.

Seastrunk told me last week that Auburn likely would be his last unofficial visit until this summer, when he's planning on attending USC's "Rising Star Camp" in June and Florida's "Friday Night Lights" camp in July.

There is a long way to go in his recruitment. If I were a betting man, I'd say Texas is the team to beat for Seastrunk.

Loaded with linemen

What do you think of this offensive line class in the state of Ohio? It looks top notch.

-- Tom from Ohio
One of the biggest recruiting clichés is that you recruit speed from the south and linemen in the Midwest. This season in the Midwest, especially in Ohio, it's a good year for offensive linemen. Already, 15 Ohio offensive linemen have been offered scholarships. Of those 15, a dozen have been offered by "Big Six" schools. And there certainly will be more names added to that list before the recruiting "season" ends.

To compare, 14 Ohio offensive linemen signed with "Big Six" schools this year and 11 in 2008.

Leading the way this year are tackles Andrew Norwell (Cincinnati Anderson), Matt James (Cincinnati St. Xavier), Kevin Schloemer (West Chester Lakota West), Andrew Donnal (Whitehouse Anthony Wayne), Skyler Schofner (Johnstown Monroe), Clint Shepherd (Eaton High), Eric Franklin (Youngstown Cardinal Mooney) and Michael Dennis (Carey High). Norwell is committed to Ohio State, while Schloemer and Shepherd are committed to Cincinnati. Of this group, Norwell and James are members of the Rivals250.

The guard position this year is led by Matt Rotheram (North Olmsted High), Travis Jackson (Columbus DeSales), Justin Stumph (Westerville St. Charles), Jeff Tanner (Cincinnati Moeller), Taylor Miller (Trenton Edgewood) and Brandon Nelli (Solon High). There's also a center prospect with a ton of offers in Christian Pace (Avon Lake High).

Raiding Kansas

Why does Kansas have such a hard time landing big-name in-state prospects, such as running back Bryce Brown (2009) and quarterback Blake Bell (2010)? Is it a lack of good recruiting or does the school not have the facilities to match those of big-time programs?

-- R.J. from Denver
I think the bottom line is that Kansas isn't viewed as a true football power, even in its home state. But this is changing, and it will take some more good seasons by the Jayhawks.

There are several other reasons, too. First, you have the dynamics of the Big 12, where everyone is chasing Texas and Oklahoma. While the Longhorns basically recruit in their state, the Sooners recruit the region. OU also has the ability to recruit elite prospects in Texas, and if the Sooners can beat the Longhorns for top players in Texas, it should be no surprise they can go into Kansas and get Bell.

There's also the type of prospects KU coach Mark Mangino and his staff recruit. They love players who are coachable, players who have certain attributes, like speed or athleticism, and can be developed into solid college players.

Still, it has to be bothersome to the average KU fan that the Jayhawks can't sign in-state studs such as Brown and Bell. But the Jayhawks are garnering more respect and it's starting to show in recruiting, as more high-end prospects are mentioning them. Things are looking better and better at Kansas.

Full ride

I always have wondered how it works when top high school recruits decide to enroll in college in January. They do this before National Signing Day, so who pays for their tuition, etc.?

-- David from Sacramento, Calif.
High school players who enroll early don't sign a letter of intent; instead, they sign a grant in-aid that's basically an agreement that the school will pay for tuition, books, room and board, etc. The same holds true for junior college prospects who sign in December.

If a prospect signs on NSD, as most do, they sign both the LOI and a grant in-aid.

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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