October 7, 2009

Ask Jamie: Big win boosts USF recruiting

Jamie Newberg is a football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags:
Sept 30: UT missing on in-state stars?
Sept 23: What's left for Florida State?
Sept 16: Big week boosts Vols class

Just how big was USF's win over Florida State in Tallahassee? What does this mean for the Bulls' recruiting?

Who are some pleasant surprises and disappointments in recruiting?

How is this Kansas class shaping up and how are the Jayhawks doing in the recruiting battles in the Big 12?

Find out in this week's mailbag.

Jamie's Mailbag
USF fighting for Florida talent

Just how big was that win for South Florida over Florida State? What will this do for Bulls recruiting, specifically in the Tampa Bay area?

-- Nick from Clearwater, Fla.
USF has had some big wins in its short tenure as a college football program. The Bulls have beaten West Virginia a few times, and they went on the road and upset Auburn a few years ago. They even climbed up to No. 2 in the nation during the 2007 season. But no win was bigger than their 17-7 victory over Florida State two weeks ago.

Until this season, people typically referred to the football powers from the state of Florida as the Big 3. But this win over the Seminoles will go a long way to change that perception. Just how big was that win? This week, the Bulls put up a new billboard in Tampa on I-275 north near the I-4 interchange to Orlando. This billboard has the words "Big 3" with the 3 crossed out and replaced by a "4". The USF logo is on there, along with the logos from Florida, FSU and Miami, and the billboard reads "Welcome to the Club Bulls fans!"

Bulls coach Jim Leavitt has worked hard in recruiting. Just this past recruiting season USF beat Florida, USC, North Carolina and others on defensive end Ryne Giddins. They also beat Miami on safety Kayvon Webster and linebacker Sam Barrington. The Bulls also won a huge battle for speedy running back Lindsey Lamar.

This one-the-field victory over Florida State could help out Bulls recruiting immensely, especially with prospects in the Tampa Bay area. South Florida would love to land a few from its backyard in cornerback Terrence Mitchell and athlete Christian Green. Mitchell, who is Lamar's cousin, visited Georgia this past weekend. He currently favors FSU and USF. He is very close with Lamar, and they would love to play college football together. Green, who has strong ties to the Seminoles because of his cousin, E.G. Green, also has very strong ties to USF. His father played basketball there and is now working for the school. But the Bulls trail Florida State for his signature. It is believed that the Gators and Bulldogs are in the thick of it as well.

Brion Carnes is the top quarterback prospect in the Tampa area. Carnes, from Bradenton Manatee High School, is committed to USF. The Bulls would love to land his teammate, wide receiver Ace Sanders. Sanders would fit in their spread offense perfectly. USF is battling Tennessee, South Carolina, Purdue, West Virginia and others for Sanders.

Other big names from the Sunshine State that USF are hot after are quarterback Jeffrey Godfrey, wide receiver Willis Wright, defensive tackle Richard Ash, athlete Jeremy Deering, running back Marcus Shaw and others.

The Bulls are 5-0 and ranked in the top 25. They have a huge game looming later this month when they play host to Cincinnati. They also play West Virginia and Miami in Tampa.

Leavitt has a chance to take this program to the next level. The mission is to obviously win the Big East and get into the BCS. The Bulls also have a chance to upset the Hurricanes. Can you imagine what a win against Miami would do for this program?

Surprise classes

Who are some of the big surprises and disappointments in recruiting this season? And where does Kansas fit in? How do you think the Jayhawks are doing?

-- Grant from Kansas
Penn State, Texas A&M, BYU, Houston and Vanderbilt are some surprise teams to me. Penn State is sitting at No. 5 overall with a stellar class. I guess Joe Paterno still has the power to pull in top-flight prospects.

Texas A&M is currently at No. 10 overall, and the Aggies have killed it along the offensive front. But to me, A&M should always be a top-20 recruiting team because there's just too much talent in the state of Texas.

BYU received a commitment from one of the top offensive prospects in quarterback Jake Heaps, while Houston is quietly putting together the top class in Conference USA. Then you have Vanderbilt, which perhaps is putting together its top class in quite a long time.

Miami, FSU, Oregon, Ole Miss, Nebraska and Illinois are somewhat disappointing classes right now. Miami is currently at No. 22 overall, which isn't bad. But with all that talent in south Florida and the Hurricanes off to a 3-1 start after those first four tough games, you would think the Hurricanes should be able to close like a sledge hammer between now and National Signing Day.

Florida State is another team that is in the mix with many high-end kids, and the Seminoles should get their share before it's all said and done. But to see those two teams where they are right now is somewhat surprising.

Then you have teams like Oregon, Ole Miss and Nebraska. The Ducks and Cornhuskers just don't have large numbers this season. Expect the Rebels to get a ton of commitments post-Thanksgiving like they did last season. Illinois lost the top prospect in the state in wide receiver Kyle Prater (although it's not done yet), and this is your typical Ron Zook class at this point.

In seven-plus seasons at Kansas, Mark Mangino and his staff have done a real nice job of evaluating and developing talent and the program. They have been pretty consistent in terms of recruiting, finishing Nos. 39, 51, 48, 38, 50, 40 and 31 with their last seven classes.

This season they are at No 35 and could finish with their top class to date. Leading the way are defensive back Dave Clark and wide receiver Keeston Terry, both four-star prospects. Jacoby Walker is an athletic quarterback who should fit the Jayhawks' system well. Then you have a bigger back headed their way in James Sims. Ricki Herod Jr. reminds me of Kansas signee Erick McGriff from last year. He's a bigger receiver who can really catch the ball.

Kansas has 13 commitments, including eight from Texas. Their average star ranking is 3.1. If you break down the Big 12, Kansas falls behind Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. The Jayhawks will never recruit at the same level as the Longhorns, Sooners, etc., but there is enough talent in their region (specifically Texas) where they should certainly sign their share on a consistent basis.

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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