May 21, 2009

Ask Jamie: Can Gators get a big-time back?

Jamie Newberg is a football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags:
May 14: La. RB Hilliard one of 2011's best
May 7: Has Tennessee found a QB?
Apr 30: Tigers prowling for in-state talent
Florida has recruited well under Urban Meyer, but the Gators have struggled to sign running backs. What gives and who might the Gators sign at the position in February?

Jake Heaps had a big performance last week, so how much will that help him in the Rivals quarterback rankings? As for his recruitment, will he stay on the West Coast or perhaps end up in Knoxville?

Speaking of quarterbacks, why doesn't Barry Brunetti have more offers?

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

Jamie's Mailbag
Big-time back for UF?

Is this the year Urban Meyer and Florida finally land one of the nation's elite running backs? Which ones are the Gators targeting and stand the best chance of getting?

-- Paul from Bluffton, Ind.
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Since Meyer took over, Florida has signed elite prospects at every position but running back. The Gators have signed some good backs, such as Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps and Mike Gillislee, but not the elite, franchise back, such as C.J. Spiller, Knowshon Moreno, Trent Richardson and the like.

Why? It certainly isn't because Florida can't recruit. Rather, it's the myth of the spread offense and the lack of the use of a running back within that offense.

With Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin carrying much of Florida's rushing load over the past few seasons, you could perhaps understand that line of thinking. But Harvin's gone, and the college football world saw last season what running backs like Demps and Rainey could do with touches in Florida's offense.

Will Florida finally land a big-time running back in the 2010 class? At this time, the Gators have a great shot at landing Mack Brown from Lithonia, Ga.; it likely will come down to Georgia and Florida for his signature.

Florida also could get in the mix for Arcadia (Fla.) DeSoto County's Marcus Shaw and/or Niceville (Fla.) High's Roy Finch; the Gators haven't offered either yet. They have offered Corey Grant, from Opelika (Ala.) High. The Gators also are in on Loganville (Ga.) High's Storm Johnson and Decatur (Ga.) Southwest DeKalb's Kendrun Malcome.

The nation's top back, Temple (Texas) High's Lache Seastrunk, will visit Florida for its "Friday Night Lights" camp in July. The Gators trail Texas, Auburn and others at this time for Seastrunk.

Rankings leap for Heaps?

After his latest camp performance, where will Jake Heaps end up in the Rivals100 rankings? And which school will get his signature?

-- Beau from Sumter, S.C.
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Heaps, a quarterback from Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline, had a great performance at the Nike Camp in Palo Alto, Calif., last weekend. Expect Heaps to be in the next edition of the Rivals100.

As far as his destination, I keep hearing BYU, although I wouldn't count out Washington. At this time, I fully expect him to remain out West.

Breaking down Brunetti

What's your take on quarterback Barry Brunetti from Memphis? How does this guy not have more offers?

-- Mark from Houston
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It is a down year at quarterback. It's the weakest crop I have seen in years, maybe the weakest since I started covering recruiting in 1992. And given the spread offense's proliferation in college football and given that he seems like an ideal fit for the offense why doesn't Brunetti have more offers?

I think there are two things hurting Brunetti, who led Memphis University School to a Tennessee state title last season. First, he's a shade under 6 feet. Second, Brunetti needs to become more consistent with his throws, which should come in time and with more reps.

On the flip side, he has many positives. He's athletic and possesses a good arm. He weighs 212 pounds and is strong in the lower and upper body. And he is the top rated dual-threat quarterback prospect in the country.

In the past few weeks, Brunetti has received scholarship offers from West Virginia and Penn State; it's safe to say he's excited about the opportunities those two schools present. Another team that has offered is Mississippi State, and Brunetti loves new coach Dan Mullen and his history with quarterbacks. Memphis, Duke, Purdue, Marshall and Tulsa also have offered. Oregon could offer soon, and Miami is starting to show interest.

Getting them to campus

Would you say coaches know about 90 percent of the players who are going to sign with them? Or are coaches pretty much in the dark about that?

-- Will from Detroit
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At this time of the year, I think that number is closer to maybe 35 to 40 percent.

If you are a college coach, you just want to be in the top three to five for a prospect; that means you likely are getting a visit. If you get a visit, you have a chance, and that's all you can ask for a chance.

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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