Tuesday, June 17, 2008

AC100 On Campus: Russell Shepard

The first in a two part series on the LSU quarterback of the future is up on the AthlonSports.com website.

He will need to add some weight if he expects to play duel-threat QB in the SEC but he certainly has the speed and explosion to cut it.

Throwing the football, he has some room for impovement. The deep pass needs some work. However, the intermediate throws - digs, crosses, slants, posts etc - are all on the money. He has enough zip to play QB on the next level.

No matter where he plays, he will be a dynamic athlete.

Russell Shepard Video: Part 1

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Early Signing Period?

G.J. Kinney is a quarterback for the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Kinney committed to the Baylor Bears prior to his senior season. He signed with the Texas Longhorns on signing day 2007.

Kinney sat on the sideline as he reshirted his freshman year in Austin. He then decided to transfer to Tulsa and will sit out this season as well. If there had been an early signing period for football prospects, like there is for basketball players, he would be challenging for the starting job at Baylor this fall instead of sitting out for the second consecutive season.

Kinney is just one of many players who have been caught up in the recruiting dominoes game. In 2007 they fell as follows: John Brantley (Ocala, Fla.) decommitted from Texas and switched to Florida. The Longhorns then, because they missed out on their first choice, offered Kinney, who then decommitted from Baylor to sign with Texas.

It was a lose-lose. Kinney lost his chance to play. Baylor lost their potential quarterback of the future. The Texas Longhorns were indifferent.

This entire fiasco could have been avoided had Kinney had the opportunity to sign his Letter of Intent (LOI) during an early signing day.

The majority of the coaches in the SEC think so too.

During the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla., nine of the 12 head coaches voted in favor of a 24-hour early signing day in late November — right before the contact period would begin. Unlike most rules within the recruiting realm, this one would actually benefit both the kids and the coaches.

It’s a win-win.

Florida’s Urban Meyer, Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino and South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier voted against the proposal.

Currently, recruits must wait and sign during a signing period that begins on the first Wednesday of February and ends in April. With the rare Terrelle Pryor exception, recruits sign their LOI on Signing Day.

It is an arbitrary date.

The recruiting calendar has been sped up so much by the proliferation of recruiting coverage on all fronts. Independent film companies, online recruiting coverage and the need to be the first coaching staff to offer a scholarship has stretched what used to be a couple month process into a multi-year process.

The Texas Longhorns had 17 commitments for the class of 2009 before the end of March 2008. Even though the trend to decommit has increased in recent years, a great majority of commitments stick. So why do they need to wait nearly a full calendar year to sign?

Recruits that have decided on where they are headed to school will have the opportunity to get the process over earlier. It is not intended to help those that are uncertain of their decision. The high school prospects are not required to sign on the proposed early day. If they are unsure and still need time to visit other campuses, they can still do so and subsequently sign in February.

This eliminates numerous headaches and saves money for all parties involved. Players will not be constantly hounded by poaching coaches, which generally means classroom and dinner table interruptions. Coaches will not have to deal with baby-sitting 30-something 17-year old kids for two months, which generally means superfluous spending of thousands of dollars.

Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson voted in favor of an early signing day saying, “This is for the guys that know. They’ve already been to two junior days. They’ve already been to camps. They’ve been on unofficial visits. They’ve been to two or three games. They know whether they want to sign or not. They don’t have to sign…We do not have to go and spend thousands of dollars going to see them (recruits) every week.”

It also sheds some light onto the recruiting process for both coaches and players. Coaches lie to recruits. Recruits lie to coaches. It is unfortunate but undeniable. With recruiting classes being partially finalized earlier, players will have a better feel for what the depth chart looks like.

On the flip side, coaches really have no idea what is going on inside a 17-year-old’s head. In fact, most 17-year-old kids do not know what is going on inside their own heads. With prospects putting pen to paper earlier, coaches will know exactly who is available to be recruited and who is off the market.

There is one small caveat, however.

“The stipulation is that you can't take an official visit,” Johnson said. “If you are not sure, take your time. Take your visits. But then you have to sign in February.”

If a recruit were to take an official visit prior to the proposed signing day in November, he would then be ineligible to sign until the normal signing day in February. It becomes the coaching staff’s responsibility to actually turn down an official visit from a recruit if he is interested in signing early.

The SEC athletic directors and presidents must first sign off on the proposal before they can submit it on a national level (which, of course, would take another approval). Athletic directors, coaches and presidents from around the nation would then need to accept and likely tweak the proposal prior to it going into effect. If it were to be approved, the early signing period is not likely to go into effect until fall of 2009.

There is no telling how the national landscape of coaches will react. Last year at the SEC spring meetings, the same coaches - with a few exceptions - voted against this same type of proposal. In only a single year, the concept of an early signing day has gained speed. Even if it does not get "ratified" this year, the idea got a jolt of momentum from Destin, Fla.

Either way, an early signing period is necessary. And inevitable.

Friday, June 6, 2008


On my trip through the state of Texas last week, I had a chance to sit down with half a dozen of the top prospects in the state. It turns out, they are also some of the top prospects in the nation.

First up is the top defensive tackle in the nation: Jamarkus McFarland.

Here is the link to the video...

DT Jamarkus McFarland Video

The biggest thing that stood out to me about big J-Mark was his off the field attitude and mentality. He was very humble and honest. He is student body president. He never misses class, practice or workouts. He lives for Lufkin High School. I asked him if he had any favorite teams or players growing up and he said, "I grew up a Lufkin Panther fan."

He is also incredibly strong. He benched 3-bills as a freshman.

It looks like LSU and Texas are the finalist with LSU having the edge. Les Miles and Co. are cleaning up...

AC100 On Campus: ERIC GORDON

I had a chance to shoot practice and sit down with Hillsboro's Eric Gordon.

here is the link to the video...

ATH Eric Gordon

Gordon does a litte bit of everything for Hillsboro. He will be used as a wideout, a running back, cornerback and safety. He will also return kicks.

He was easily the best athlete on the field when I watched practice. He was also much thicker than I anticipated, particularly in the lower body. He strength should really develop on the next level. Its the mental side of things that he will need the most work on. He reads, progressions and maturity must be improved if he expects to star in a conference like the SEC or ACC.