September 17, 2010

Ask Mike: Clowney could be best DE in years

Mike Farrell is a national football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly Ask Mike feature.

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How does top prospect Jadeveon Clowney stack up against other top prospects at his position in past classes?

How does LSU stand with some of its top remaining targets?

Has Michigan's fast start on the field helped the Wolverines on the recruiting trail?

These questions and more are addressed by National Recruiting Analyst Mike Farrell in this week's mailbag.


Comparing Clowney

Lets talk about Rock Hill (S.C.) South Pointe defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. How would you compare him to some of the other top ranked defensive ends in past years like Carlos Dunlap, Daquan Bowers, Ronald Powell, etc.? Where are you predicting him to go?

- David from Columbia, S.C.

David, I think Clowney is head and shoulders better than any of the other defensive ends I've seen over the last decade I've been doing this.

There have been some amazing prospects as our No. 1 defensive end like the three you mention as well as Devon Kennard and even Melvin Alaeze who were absolute freaks in high school, but Clowney out-freaks them all. He has a better motor than Dunlap, has better size than Powell and Kennard, is longer than Alaeze was and he's better than Bowers when you combine everything.

Bowers is the closest but Clowney is better. And I think he ends up at South Carolina in the end slightly over Alabama.


LSU's class

The talent in Louisiana high school football is great this year with plenty of five and four-star talent. So far, LSU seems to be on its game for the most part, but are still without commitments from two big-time in-state recruits, offensive lineman Greg Robinson and Jermauria Rasco. What are the odds of LSU finishing with these two guys in their class?

- Shane A from Gonzales, LA

Shane, they have a good shot at both of those guys. With Rasco there is a bit more competition with Texas, FSU and many, many others pushing hard while Robinson is likely coming down to LSU and Auburn with the latter holding the edge.

The Tigers might not get both of them and there's a chance they get neither, but I'd be surprised if they got shut out and even if they do, this is looking like a great class for LSU.


Bump for Pierson?

I'm hearing that Missouri commit Anthony Pierson is having a great year. The guy has game-changing speed and projects quite well at two positions. Will there be a jump in the top 150 for this awesome player?

- Dennis from Columbia, MO

Dennis, Pierson is an impressive prospect because of his speed, the kid can flat out fly. I saw him in person against Indianapolis (Ind.) Cathedral and he would have had nearly 300 yards had a long touchdown not been called back. The only issue is that he's small so he likely won't be a running back at Missouri, more of a slot/return guy or a cornerback.

I can't say he'll jump from 169 now into the top 150 because I think we have him ranked properly, but that doesn't mean he's not impressive. He is one of the fastest kids I've seen this year.


More five stars for 'Bama?

Do you think Alabama will end up with any more five stars and if you do who do you think they would be?

- Nathan from Harvest, AL

Nathan, I have little doubt Alabama will get at least one other five star this year. The obvious choice would be offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio whose brother, Arie Kouandjio, signed with 'Bama this past February.

But they are also in the mix for Jadeveon Clowney, Curtis Grant and a few guys who could end up as five stars like Ray Drew, Isaiah Crowell and some others.


Wait-and-see at Tennessee

With a depleted roster, can Derek Dooley snag some four or five stars out there, or are they waiting to see how program moves? We need one big catch to help convince some.

- Jason from Greenville, S.C.

Jason, I honestly don't see too many good things for Tennessee recruiting this year barring a shift in things down the stretch. Unless they pull a few upsets as well as keep guys like Antonio Richardson and Cameron Clear in state, this is going to be a rough class.

They have a good shot at some big names like DeAnthony Arnett and Andrew Buie but with 14 commitments already and only one ranked as a four-star, this looks like a down year as a lot of prospects are waiting to see how things go under Dooley.

The loss to Oregon doesn't help so these next few key games against Florida, LSU, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina will either help or hinder recruiting.


Positions of strength

With the number of great offensive linemen produced at Wisconsin that go to the pros and the number of talented running backs at Wisconsin why do you think we never recruit much higher than three-star athletes at these positions?

- Devin from Grandville, MI

Devin, I'm going to disagree a little bit here. Some of the higher-ranked guys for Wisconsin the last few years have been running backs and offensive linemen. Wisconsin has had three offensive linemen ranked four stars or better since 2006 and two running backs as four stars in the same span.

While that certainly doesn't reflect the tradition of top college offensive linemen and running backs over the last 15-20 years at Wisconsin, it is in line with what they've produced for the NFL recently. The last running back drafted out of Wisconsin was Brian Calhoun back in 2006 and the last offensive linemen drafted were Kraig Urbik in 2009 and of course Joe Thomas in 2007.

Right now Wisconsin has four offensive linemen and three running backs in the NFL which isn't bad, but only Thomas is considered a standout.


Dawgs or Tide?

Does Isaiah Crowell end up at Alabama or Georgia on signing day?

- Ken Keller from Tullahoma, AL

Ken, I'm saying it's 65-35 Georgia right now but that could change.

As the season goes on and the Mark Richt rumors begin to float if Georgia doesn't have a big year, 'Bama could easily make up the ground especially with many feeling Mark Ingram will leave after this year and Trent Richardson will leave the year after.


Gators missing out in state?

What's going on in Gainesville? Is it just me, or are they missing on some top in-state kids because of a stacked depth chart (Tony Steward, Mike Bellamy, Mike Blakely)?

- Vaughn from Turlock, CA

Florida can't be counted out for any of the three players you mention although they don't lead for any of them, but I can say that I think the depth chart does impact what the Gators are doing in state this year.

They are so loaded at some positions that it will be hard for them to continue to land five star after five star. But make no mistake about it, the Gators will be competing as always for the No. 1 slot in the SEC and the country this year in recruiting.

Don't cry for them because they have so much young talent, Urban Meyer will still recruit the best and land more than he loses.


Fast start

How has Michigan's fast (and publicized) start impacted their recruiting? Specifically, which top recruits are taking a harder look at Michigan now that they are ranked?

- Mike W from Indianapolis

Mike, yes I think Michigan has improved its stock with guys like Demetrius Hart, Anthony Zettel, Avery Walls and others.

If they keep it up and become the surprise of the 2011 season in the Big Ten, they will close strong. I expect them to be 5-0 heading into their battle with Michigan State and if they win that one, watch out.

Mike Farrell is a national football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. Click here to send him a question or comment for his mailbag.



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