Saturday, February 4, 2012

Top 3 High School Wide Receivers

Here is my list of the top 3 wide receivers for the class of 2012:

3. Cayleb Jones- Austin High School, Austin, Texas- At about 6'3" and 190 lbs, Cayleb Jones possesses very good size for a high school senior. While his film may not be flashy, he shows the ability to catch the ball in traffic, run great routes, and win jump balls on a routine basis. All of those things are necessary for a wide receiver that lacks elite speed (timed around 4.5-4.6 range). Jones committed to UT very early, but was still pursued by some very good schools including Auburn, Florida, Miami (FL), Oklahoma, Oregon, and Virginia Tech,

Cayleb's junior film brought to you by TexasPreps:

2. Stefon Diggs- Our Lady Good Counsel High School, Olney, Maryland- As one of the best athletes in the class, Diggs is a very similar player to Sammy Watkins (Clemson) and DeAnthony Thomas (Oregon) from the 2011 class. With the ball in his hands, Diggs is a threat to go the distance on every play. He turns short throws into big gains regularly, runs the ball out of the backfield, and stretches the field vertically. While he needs some polishing on the essentials of playing the position- route running, hand concentration- and his size (6'0" 180 lbs) is not great, his excellent athleticism makes up for his shortcomings. Those weaknesses will surely be fixed at the collegiate level and don't be surprised to see Diggs making plays next fall. He has yet to choose a school, but Stefon Diggs has offers from all over the country including Ohio State, Florida, Auburn, USC, FSU, Michigan, and Oklahoma.

Stefon's senior film courtesy of sumo146:

1. Dorial Green-Beckham- Hillcrest High School, Springfield, Missouri- While more things than talent alone go into transforming a great high school player into a great college player, DGB has the raw talent to start on 90% of FBS schools right now. That is not a knock on the current talent at the WR position either; it is more of a testament to DGB's incredible talent. At 6'6" 220 lbs, Green-Beckham has rare size for a WR prospect. Couple that with sub 4.5 speed and you have the #1 player in the nation according to both Scout and Rivals. Watching his highlights truly show how dominating he is in high school, and he also shows the long-stride and power that he is known for. He signed with Missouri on Signing Day, but DGB had offers from everywhere: Alabama, Arkansas, OSU, Oklahoma, Texas, Michigan, USC, Notre Dame, Miami (FL), and many many more.

Junior film thanks to KUTheShiver:

Stay tuned for more player rankings as the 2012 class is coming to a close and the 2013 class is heating up!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Top 3 High School Running Backs

To continue the series of position group rankings, here are my top 3 running backs for the 2012 class:

3. Randy "Duke" Johnson- Miami Norland High School, Miami, Florida- In a class that is full of explosive running backs, Duke Johnson is near the top of the list when it comes to raw athleticism and ability. Listed at 5'9 and in the 185 lb. range, Johnson may be a little undersized, but it's his incredible skill set that has many 'Canes fans excited about his future at "The U." Playing against some of the most athletic competition in the country in Miami, Johnson truly separates himself with his 4.4 speed and gaudy open field moves. Don't think that he is just a speed runner though; Johnson's highlight tape shows numerous occasions that he overpowers defenders in the hole and out in space. He could contribute early at the next level returning kicks, at the running back position, or even lined up in the slot. With offers from FSU, Florida, Georgia, and Texas, Johnson has received attention from a lot of the big boys, but ultimately will stay at home and play for Al Golden at the U.

Film courtesy of canefreak2001:

2. Trey Williams- Andy Dekaney High School, Houston, Texas- All it takes are the first three plays of Trey Williams highlight film to see the he is a special talent. At 5'8 and around 180 lbs, Williams has the breakaway speed that is rare even at the college level. While his size would indicate that he is more of a spread running back, his film shows that he is more than capable of handling the rock 20+ times as an I-Back. With sub 4.4 speed and every elusive move in his arsenal, Williams is a threat to take it the distance every time. Although he is committed to Texas A&M, he boasts offers from the "who's who" of college football including Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, Oregon, Oklahoma State, and many more.

Senior film compliments of gpowers22:

1. Keith Marshall- Millbrook High School, Raleigh, North Carolina- Keith Marshall is not only a top running back in the country, but perhaps a top 5 overall athlete in the 2012 class. Listed at 5'11 and 190 pounds, Marshall boasts the rare combination of good size and sub 4.4 speed. Watching his highlight film, I can't help but compare his highlights to that Reggie Bush in high school. I'm not saying that Marshall will produce Bush-esque results at the next level, but his agility, vision, and speed make him the top back in the land. With an offer sheet of more than 20 listed on both Rivals and Scout, Marshall was arguably the most coveted back of the 2012 class. While he may not start right away at Georgia (Isaiah Crowell was a top back in the 2011 class), Marshall will find his way onto the field in the return game, spotting Crowell, and even at wide receiver early in his career. Some of his top offers include LSU, USC, Alabama, FSU, and Notre Dame.

Junior film thanks to millbrookfootballer4:

Up next, the 2012 top 3 wide receivers!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Top 3 High School Players by Position

Leading up to, and continuing through National Signing Day I will start a series of rankings by position group of high school phenoms headed to the collegiate level. There will be three players per position, and they will be ranked based on 3 things:
1. Skills that translate to the next level- some guys are phenomenal high school athletes and players, but because of a shortcoming such as size, speed, etc. do not project as well at the next level.
2. Film- as the old saying goes, "film doesn't lie." I will provide a YouTube link for to each player's highlight film and also a little analysis of the film.
3. Offer sheet- it's pretty self-explanatory, but if a player has offers from all of the top programs in the country (LSU, Bama, Ohio State, USC, etc.) then they are obviously highly regarded by college coaches across the country, who have much more knowledge than I.

We'll start the series off at the glamorous position: quarterback. Here's my list of the top three high school quarterbacks in the country:
3. Matt Davis- Klein Forest High School, Houston, Texas- Listed at about 6'1.5 and over 200 pounds, Davis possesses good size for a player with his athleticism. Listed by most gurus as a dual-threat quarterback, Davis has the ability to hurt the opposition with both his arm and his legs. His short highlight film, which is provided by 24/7 Sports, mainly showcases his ability as a runner (claims a sub 4.5 40 yard dash) in the spread option attack. One cause for concern is his ability to make accurate throws on a consistent basis. However, I was impressed with his pocket presence and accuracy on a few of his throws, especially for a guy who is known as a runner. Finally, while Davis is a Texas A&M commit, he has offers from some top programs including Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Clemson, Oklahoma State, Clemson, and Nebraska.


2. Jameis Winston- Hueytown High School, Hueytown, Alabama- At 6'4 and close to 200 pound, Jameis Winston is not your stereotypical dual-threat quarterback. Winston has rare athleticism and an incredible stride that is comparable to the great dual-threats of the past decade such as Terrelle Pryor and Vince Young. While it may be a stretch to list Winston in the same breathe as those players, it only takes a few minutes of his highlight reel to recognize his outstanding field presence and poise in the pocket as well as his quickness outside of it. He is difficult to sack in the pocket or tackle in the open field and shows great arm strength. Additionally, Winston is a great decision-maker throwing the football (he only had 3 interceptions his junior season). Like many high school players, his accuracy is hot-and-cold, but when he is on he is as deadly as any player in the country. While Winston flirted with the thought of attending hometown Alabama, he is currently committed to play for Florida State. Aside from those two, he holds offers from Ohio State, Clemson, Florida, Auburn, LSU, and Miami (FL).

Film, provided by igitnya4570 :

1. Gunner Kiel- Columbus East High School, Columbus, Indiana- Gunner Kiel is your standard for pro-style quarterbacks- at 6'4 and over 200 pounds, Gunner possesses the size that all college coaches look for at the quarterback position. Additionally, Kiel displays arm strength as well as accuracy as he hits his receivers in stride throughout his highlight film. Known as a guy that can make all the throws, Kiel is also athletic enough to make defenses pay if they drop everyone in coverage. While his competition is not the best in Indiana, Kiel has shown the ability to compete with the big boys at camps all over the country. Currently enrolled at Notre Dame, Kiel jumped around quite a bit in his recruitment. Nonetheless, he held offers from about anyone you can name including Oklahoma, USC, LSU, Michigan, Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

His film is courtesy of Allen Trieu of Scout:

Next up: running backs.

Monday, January 23, 2012

What is going on in Eugene?

After competing in a BCS game the last 3 seasons and coming off of a 12-2 season, you would think that all is well in Eugene. As Lee Corso once said, "not so fast my friend." So far this off-season the Ducks have lost starting running back LaMichael James to the NFL Draft, former blue-chippers Cliff Harris and Lache Seastrunk have been dismissed from the team, Darron Thomas made one of the most questionable draft decisions in recent memory, and now Chip Kelly has been rumored for NFL jobs. While Kelly has decided to stay at Oregon, the recent turmoil still begs the question, what in the world is wrong in Eugene?

While I have no proof of NCAA violations or a looming investigation, I have to think that it is difficult to keep the boosters at bay at Oregon. With their heavy connection with Phil Knight and Nike, Oregon is already a very attractive program to prospective recruits. However with the recent shuffling of players to the draft, off-field incidents, and their head coach trying to pull his best Pete Carroll impression, I am beginning to think that Oregon may be in some trouble soon. Stay tuned for future thoughts on the Oregon situation as well as my way-too-early list of Heisman hopefuls!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Urban Meyer and what he means for Ohio State

After the demise of Jim Tressel the Ohio State football program was left with a giant stain on the success that they had achieved throughout his tenure. Not only was the program left without their leader of the past decade, they were also unsure of the future of their coaching staff. Following their worst season since 1988, Ohio State decided to look to the outside for their next head coach. In perhaps the biggest coaching hire since Nick Saban returned to college football, Ohio State found their coach: the legendary Urban Meyer.

Considered one of the pioneers of the spread offense, Meyer has achieved nearly unprecedented success as a head coach. In two years at Bowling Green, Meyer led the Falcons to a 17-6 record and earned the MAC Coach of the Year honor. After just two years in Bowling Green, Meyer left to take the head coaching job at Utah. While there, he led the Utes to a combined 22-2 record, and an undefeated season capped off by a BCS win in the Fiesta Bowl over the Pitt Panthers. Meyer once again won conference coach of the year honors, and was also recognized nationally as one of the top coaches in the country. Alex Smith, the #1 pick of the 2005 NFL Draft, was groomed under Meyer's system that utilized Smith's athletic ability and accuracy in the short passing game.

After his second season at Utah, Meyer was courted by some of the top schools in the country including Florida and Notre Dame. Ultimately, Meyer decided to head south and become the head coach for the Florida Gators. While Meyer had achieved national recognition before going to Florida, it was with the Gators that he became known as one of the elite coaches in the game. His recruiting success was rarely matched during his tenure at Florida compiling 3 top five classes (according to Scout, which is the recruiting service that I will often refer to). He attracted future collegiate and NFL stars such as Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Carlos Dunlap, the Pouncey twins, Aaron Hernandez, and Cam Newton, among many other top talents. While reeling in some of the top talent across the country, Meyer achieved great success on the field as well: 3 ten win seasons, 3 BCS games, 2 National Championships, and an overall record of 65-15.

With the problems facing OSU (NCAA sanctions, a losing record, and a sub-par recruiting class) it was imperative that they make a "splash hire," and they did just that with Urban Meyer. Known for his success in big games, Meyer will undoubtedly lead the Buckeyes to many successful seasons. While one could question his longevity (his longest stay at a school was 6 seasons), his players off-the-field track record with the law, and his health, it is tough to debate his nearly unparalleled success both on the recruiting trail and on the field. It will be interesting to see how he does in his first year with the Buckeyes facing a bowl ban as well as a change in scheme offensively, but beyond year one the Buckeyes should experience more of the success that they became accustomed to in the past decade. Meyer seemingly has no limitations on the recruiting trail and will have a very talented quarterback, Braxton Miller, to build his famed spread offense around. No matter what happens in the first season, Meyer will restore the Buckeyes to a national power, which in turn helps the Big Ten. Couple the Meyer hiring with Michigan State on the rise under Mark Dantonio, Wisconsin's recent success, and Michigan achieving an 11 win season this year capped with a BCS win, the Big Ten should be highly competitive in the coming years as one of the premier conferences in college football.

Stay tuned for more on the Big Ten in the near future!

Friday, January 13, 2012

BCS National Championship

Almost a week removed from one of the most hyped games in recent memory, I think its time to reflect on the game that took place on Monday night. Alabama dominated the Tigers from start to finish, on their way to the worst rated national championship game in the BCS era. Over a month ago, I had a hard time deciding who I wanted to face LSU in the title game. I wasn't exactly in favor of a rematch, but I had a hard time coming up with another worthy opponent for the mighty Tigers. As it turns out, the Tigers weren't so mighty.

Alabama made LSU's offense look like a team that just opened fall camp-- they looked out of sync, mistake-prone, and quite frankly they played not to lose, instead of playing to win. While I questioned the play calling most of the game, it had to be difficult to be Greg Studrawa (LSU's offensive coordinator) when the line seemingly couldn't pick up on any of the Tide's blitz packages or develop a running game. The Tigers mustered a measly 39 yards on the ground on 27 carries, good for 1.4 yards per attempt. I'm of the belief that the run game would have been benefited by taking a few shots down the field through the passing game. I can't remember a single pass longer than 20 yards besides the slight overthrow of Jarvis Landry late in the game.

Jordan Jefferson looked uncomfortable all game, and never got into a rhythm. In terms of the passing game, they did not utilize his strengths at all. If the gameplan was to drop back and try to beat the Tide from the pocket, LSU should have given Jarrett Lee a shot in the second half to try to change their fortune-- it's not like Lee was an unproven commodity.

Nevertheless, it's time to give credit where credit is due: the Alabama Crimson Tide were the better team Monday night, and they deserved the crown of national champs. Their defense was downright dominate and flooded with NFL prospects. The Crimson Tide's offensive staff also opened up the playbook compared to the first matchup with LSU, allowing AJ McCarron to throw the ball on 16 of 18 first down plays in the first half. They established the run game and they completed a lot of high percentage passes. The team was well disciplined and deserved to win the title this season.

You'll get my thoughts on the BCS/playoff system in the near future, and look for a post regarding Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes over the weekend!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Robert Griffin III turns pro

As expected, Baylor's Robert Griffin III has decided to enter the NFL Draft this coming April. It was a smart move on his part because he will likely be the second quarterback taken, behind Stanford's Andrew Luck. Due to a few underclassmen choosing to stay in college for another year, this year's quarterback class lacks star power behind Luck and RG3. Many experts have Griffin as a top ten prospect and don't be surprised to see teams like Washington or Miami trade up to select him.