July 23, 2009

Ask Jamie: WVU class best in the Big East?

Jamie Newberg is a football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags:
July 16: Brewster building at Minnesota
July 9: Can Texas land top class?
July 2: Top-notch talent at DE
Just how well is West Virginia recruiting right now? Who are the headliners headed to Morgantown and just how good is running back Braylon Heard? Can Texas Tech really pull a wide receiver or two from the state of Florida? UCLA is off to a good start; how would you assess the Bruins' class so far?

We delve into those questions in this week's recruiting mailbag.

Jamie's Mailbag
Good group of Mountaineers

Overall, what do you think of West Virginia's recruiting class so far? What do you think of Braylon Heard?

-- Jason from Charleston, W.V.
I think the Mountaineers are off to a big start with their 2010 recruiting class, and I believe they have the top class in the Big East.

There are several headliners. Barry Brunetti, from Memphis University School, is the nation's top rated dual-threat quarterback prospect, and he is a perfect fit in the Mountaineers' offense because he can run and throw. As a passer, Brunetti still has a learning curve, but he has the tools to be outstanding in that offense.

He isn't the only quarterback committed. Jeremy Johnson of Silsbee (Texas) High is dynamic with the ball in his hands. He's not as accomplished as Brunetti as a thrower, but he's quick in the pocket and can really burn a defense with his ability to run or extend a play.

The Mountaineers are getting another big time playmaker in their backfield, too, in Heard, from Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney. He has speed and quickness and is dangerous is space. Heard can play cornerback as well.

Brunetti and Heard are four-star prospects. So is Quinton Spain of Petersburg (Va.) High, a massive (6-5/330) two-way lineman who projects as a guard.

Other key recruits headed to Morgantown are wide receiver Fred Pickett of Pahokee (Fla.) High, running back Trey Johnson and guard Marquis Wallace of Richmond (Va.) Varina and safety Mike Dorsey of Warren (Ohio) Harding.

West Virginia has 13 commitments from players from eight states, and it looks like the Mountaineers are headed for a big recruiting year.

Something to sell in the Sunshine State

Can Texas Tech really land a wide receiver from the state of Florida?

-- Brady from Dallas
Absolutely. In fact, the Red Raiders are the team to beat for Shawn Corker of Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons and could be the dark horse for Kadron Boone of Ocala Trinity Catholic. And it appears O.J. Ross of Daytona Beach Mainland will make an official visit this fall.

Most wide receivers love the idea of trying to be the next Michael Crabtree and catching a zillion passes for pass-happy Mike Leach.

Corker could commit to the Red Raiders between now and the beginning of the season. He visited Lubbock this spring and was impressed with just about everything with Texas Tech. Most important, he believes he can thrive in that offense.

As for Boone, everyone seems to think he will end up at Florida, whose campus is about 30 miles from Ocala. But Florida already has commitments from wide receivers Stephen Alli of Andover (N.H.) Proctor Academy and Solomon Patton of Mobile (Ala.) Murphy, and it is expected that wide receiver James Louis of Delray Beach (Fla.) Atlantic finally will make it official and commit this weekend. That would give Florida three wide receiver commitments, and the staff would love to sign up to five. Justin McCay of Shawnee (Kan.) Bishop Miege, Christian Green of Tampa Catholic, Markeith Ambles of McDonough (Ga.) Henry County, Chris Dunkley of Pahokee (Fla.) High, Boone and a few others are in the mix.

One issue with Boone is will others commit to Florida before he does? If so, that opens the door for Texas Tech and others. I certainly got the feeling in talking with Boone recently that he would love to play in the Red Raiders' offense. As he said, "What wide receiver wouldn't?" This week's "Friday Night Lights" should help clear up some of the mystery with Florida and some wide receivers.

After speaking with Ross a few days ago, I got the impression that he truly is open and that Texas Tech was one of his favorites, along with South Carolina, North Carolina, Purdue, and Rutgers. He said he wants to visit Tech, so let's see if that happens.

Bruins in the hunt

What are your thoughts on UCLA's recruiting so far?

-- Bob from Pasadena, Calif.
So far, so good for the Bruins. The latest commitment, their seventh, is from four-star prospect Tony Jefferson of Chula Vista (Calif.) Eastlake, a Rivals100 member.

Jefferson is a 'tweener who could play linebacker but likely will be a safety at UCLA. Early on, it was thought he would he choose USC.

The Bruins also have landed a quarterback who is rising up the recruiting charts in Brett Nottingham of Danville (Calif.) Monte Vista. He's a big (6-4/ 210) and accurate prospect who has a chance to thrive in Norm Chow's offense. In fact, he reminds some of another Chow pupil, former North Carolina State quarterback Phillip Rivers. Last season, Nottingham completed 69.4 percent of his passes for 3,183 yards, 39 touchdowns and only nine interceptions.

Other standout prospects headed to UCLA are safety Earnest Thomas of Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary's, defensive tackles Wesley Flowers of Fresno (Calif.) Edison and Julious Moore of Bellevue (Wash.) High and defensive back Tevin McDonald of Fresno (Calif.) Edison.

At this time, Rick Neuheisel and his Bruins seem to be gaining some recruiting momentum. Right now, UCLA finds itself in the hunt for linebacker Josh Shirley of Fontana (Calif.) Kaiser, running back Jordon James of Corona (Calif.) High, wide receivers Paul Richardson of Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra, Kenny Stills of Carlsbad (Calif.) La Costa Canyon and Anthony Jefferson of Los Angeles Cathedral, defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa of Portland (Ore.) Douglas and cornerback Joshua Shaw of Palmdale (Calif.) High, among others.

They may not finish with the top class in the Pac 10, but UCLA is making strides and should finish with one of the top classes on the West Coast.

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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