April 30, 2009

Ask Jamie: Tigers prowling for in-state talent

Jamie Newberg is a football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags:
Apr 23: Michigan making noise
Apr 16: Top RB taking hard look at Auburn
Apr 9: BC's new approach to recruiting
Auburn has been in the headlines the past few days with the 'Tiger Prowl', where seven Tiger coaches piled in a limo and barnstormed the state of Alabama. How is this road trip being received and can it help new Auburn head coach Gene Chizik in the in-state recruiting wars?

USC has recruited nationally better than anyone this decade. How do the Trojans recruit Florida so successfully while the big three in Florida have a difficult time recruiting out west in California?

And who is Charles Perkins and why is he a perfect fit in the college offense he chose to play in?

Jamie's Mailbag
Prowling Tigers

Do you really think this Auburn stunt with the limo will help them in recruiting?

-- Mel from Birmingham, Ala.
For the past two recruiting seasons, Alabama has flat-out dominated in-state recruiting. To be honest with you, that's saying it kindly. To put things in perspective, Auburn did not sign one top-10 player from its home state in the 2008 and 2009 classes. Not one. That's not good, especially considering the talent the state has produced in this time frame.

Now there is a new regime for the Tigers. Gene Chizik has assembled a very good coaching staff, especially when it comes to recruiting. Even with the short recruiting window for its first class, Auburn closed very well. But the Tigers did this with out-of-state recruits like running back Dontae Aycock and wide receiver DeAngelo Benton.

Priority No. 1 in recruiting for Chizik and company is they have to do much better in the state of Alabama. Nick Saban and the Tide have a stranglehold on the state, and the Tigers have to do something to shake the trees and stir the pot.

So they brainstormed and came up with something outside the box. This week they sent seven Auburn coaches on the road to recruit. The difference here is that they all shared a limo and traveled the state of Alabama. They are visiting high schools, coaches and recruits. They are calling it the Tiger Prowl.

Their plan is to hit 30 high schools during the week. They have traveled all over the state, starting in Mobile, and they will finish up in Birmingham today. Auburn coaches Trooper Taylor and Curtis Luper thought of the idea. While they were together at Oklahoma State they did this for one day. Coincidently, the Cowboys got a few commitments from their limo trip in the Sooner State with this last class.

How well-received has the Tiger Prowl been so far?

At a stop in Greenville, Ala., the principal, superintendent and high school coach met all seven coaches at the front of the school. It's been a big success so far and they are certainly getting a ton of attention.

And that's the key attention. Auburn wants to ride this wave of recruiting momentum for as long as it can. Perception is big in recruiting and this "stunt" was a good idea by Taylor and Luper. Think about it this way for a second; the SEC is so brutal in recruiting. Any little edge you can gain will help.

Now we will have to wait and see if the Tigers get any commitments from their Tiger Prowl.

One-way street

Why is it that USC on the West Coast seems to pick up Floridian players fairly easily while Florida teams generally struggle to lure players away from California?

-- Josh from Tallahassee, Fla.
I think you bring up a well-founded point. USC does better recruiting the state of Florida than FSU, Florida and Miami do recruiting the state of California. Just this past National Signing Day alone the Trojans landed safety Jawanza Starling and linebacker Frankie Telfort from the Sunshine State. The year before Southern California signed T.J. Bryant. Both Bryant and Starling are from Tallahassee Lincoln High School. That school was a pipeline directly to hometown Florida State.

Here's the deal, USC is the recruiting power in the nation. Despite the tradition of the teams in the Sunshine State, there are many kids from Florida who just want to play for Pete Carroll and the Trojans. Their success on the field and putting players in the NFL has been unreal of late. Just this past weekend alone 11 Trojans were selected in the NFL draft, giving USC a total of 21 over the past two drafts.

You also have to factor in that over the past few seasons both FSU and Miami have fallen off their lofty perch and are once again trying to get there. Meanwhile, Florida has won two of the last three national championships, and the Gators have a shot to repeat this season.

If Florida hasn't caught the Trojans as a recruiting power then they are pretty darn close. The fact of the matter is that Florida just doesn't go out west all that often. They don't need to. But if you are one of the Big Three from Florida, why would you go out west and fight for the top prospects out there when 90-95 percent of the elite ones are going to sign with USC anyway?

Now things could certainly be a little different if USC was struggling. But USC has arguably been the team of the decade and it just seems like the days of the Kyle Wright and D.J. Williams bolting for the Sunshine State are over. At least with the way things are going right now.

Peach State backs

What do you think of Georgia Tech commitment Charles Perkins?

-- Bill from Atlanta
There are a lot of very good running backs from the Peach State this season like Mack Brown, Kendrun Malcome, Storm Johnson, Rajion Neal, Rajaan Bennett and Juwan Thompson, to name a few. But another guy to keep an eye on is Perkins from Suwanee (Ga.) Collins Hill. The 6-foot, 195-pound Perkins has committed to Georgia Tech. He looks like a perfect fit for the Yellow Jackets' offense. Perkins should settle in nicely at that "B" back position. He's a north-south guy who runs with very good power. He lacks great speed but is fast enough, and I expect big things for him at Tech.

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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