Thursday, February 4, 2010

National Signing Day

National Signing Day has come and gone and four of the major universities in the state of Florida did an outstanding job of not only filling needs with talented prospects, but also receiving letters of intent from good character students who look to make their new destinations proud. I’m going to break down these schools and their prospects…

University of South Florida

The Bulls typically get FSU and UF’s leftovers, but the South Florida staff has gotten extremely aggressive the past few seasons, stealing top defensive end recruit Ryne Giddens from Florida last season and ripping top cornerback Terrance Mitchell this season from Florida State. Mitchell is the top recruit in this class for USF and I expect him to compete for immediate playing time. Todd Chandler, from Miami, Florida, was once a University of Miami commitment, but signed his letter of intent with the Bulls. If Skip Holtz can establish a relationship with in the south Florida region, he’ll continue to build solid recruiting classes. The talent down there is unbelievable. Jamius Gunsby from LaGrange, Georgia, didn’t have the biggest offer sheet, but this kid can no doubt play quarterback. Rivals has South Florida ranked 64th and Scout has them ranked 50th. Don’t let these rankings discourage. This is a good 1st class for Holtz and they’ll only get better.

University of Miami

The ‘Canes are known for bringing in top tier talent without even trying and this season is no different. They can recruit central and south Florida and easily compete in the ACC, but if they want to make a splash on the national level they have to be able to get the elite talent from both the state of Florida and the nation. Offensive lineman Brandon Linder is the top prospect in this seasons class. Linder is a physical specimen (6’6”, 290 lbs) and can play any position on the offensive line. His St. Thomas Aquinas teammate, Keion Payne, is a big cornerback and has the tools to face some of the taller wide outs in college. Running back Storm Johnson is a man among boys. This young athlete looks NFL ready now with his physical stature and speed. Expect him to be the opening day starter if Greg Cooper struggles rehabbing from his knee injury. Rivals ranks UM 24th and Scout has them at 17th. This’ll be the class critic’s look back at if Shannon fails a year or two from now.

Florida State University

The Seminoles seem to have a knack for recruiting incredible high school athletes that don’t pan out. Whether it’s coaching or the player, new head coach Jimbo Fisher is making it his mission to get these kids prepared for the collegiate level. Linebacker Christian Jones is the prized jewel of this seasons class. This kid is a beast of a football player. Size, speed, moves laterally with ease, and will absolutely lay the lumber on opposing running backs. Problem is he’s a big kid (6’4”, 220) and may grow into a defensive end. Regardless, it’s a good problem to have. Lamarcus Joyner from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, is considered to be one of the top 1 or 2 cornerbacks in the nation and is such a phenomenal athlete; most expect this young dynamo to play both sides of the ball. An intriguing prospect is defensive lineman Bjoern Werner. Werner hails from Germany and came to the United States three years ago as part of an international exchange program set up by USA Football. ‘Nole fans are excited to see what this young man will accomplish in the future. Rivals and Scout ranked FSU 10th and ESPN ranked them 6th. Jimbo Fisher put together a great 1st class and most of these kids will contribute in 2010.

University of Florida

Ever hear of the term, “The rich get richer?” Florida pulled in an unbelievable class. Basically, take all of the top talent at pretty much every position and place them at UF. That’s how astonishing this class is for the ’08 National Champs. I’d love to give you a few names like I have for every other school, but literally every prospect has superstar potential. Once Meyer comes back from his leave of absence, he can take his pick of who’ll play and who’ll redshirt, which is not a bad thing at all. The Gator’s depth with be something every school fears. Both ESPN and Rivals consider Ronald Powell out of Moreno Valley, California, the top overall prospect in the nation and he can play multiple positions, including defensive end, linebacker, or tight end. A “freak” sums this kid up. Matt Elam out of West Palm Beach is another athlete who can play many positions. He has been compared to FSU and Buccaneer legend Derrick Brooks, but linebacker is only one of many positions he excels at. Safety may be his final destination, but he is an established running back as well. Rivals has UF ranked 2nd and Scout and ESPN have the Gators as the top recruiting class in the nation. Like I said earlier, Meyer can redshirt all of these kids and it’ll not affect his program. The best athletes will get on the field though.

That’s about it. Check out the aforementioned sites and research your favorite team(s) to learn more about your incoming classes. Just think, only 6 more months until college football starts back up. Ugh…

Is The Pro Bowl Enjoyable?

No, really, is it? Is there anything more meaningless than seeing some of the best players in the NFL go half-speed and pretend to be enjoying themselves? Is it even really the best players in the NFL taking part of this game? Hasn’t the Pro Bowl become more of a popularity contest than anything? Manning and Brees weren’t participating. I know they’re playing in the Super Bowl, but then the NFL shouldn’t label the Pro Bowl as an “All-Star” game. Heck, some of the guys elected to the Pro Bowl didn’t even want to play in the game. How is that supposed make fans watch? Seeing superstars like Matt Schaub and Johnny Knox made the game so compelling and competitive, I didn’t want to switch to the Grammy’s at all. William Hung thought that some of the players weren’t talented.

Hasn’t the NFL gone too far with this Pro Bowl stuff? No one cares and they’re shoving it down our throats. I guess we should be grateful because it’s football and the season’s almost over and we should take what we can get, but no one even attempts to compete during the game. You’re trying to tell me Asante Samuel easily bit on a double-move by Andre Johnson. Samuel has seen that act a thousand times. I’m pretty sure he wanted to get in the game for a few series, do as little as possible, and bench himself before he could potentially get hurt.

If the NFL is that serious about having competitive football before the Super Bowl than here’s my advice: have a Pro Bowl team, but make it more of an honor than an actual game. Then, the week before the Super Bowl, have the collegiate Senior Bowl played at the location of the Super Bowl. I believe the NFL holds the rights to the Senior Bowl anyway. Fans will actually get a chance to see kids who WANT to compete for obvious reasons and it would be somewhat enjoyable. And before you say, “You can’t make money off of these kids. That’s an NCAA violation.” If you really think the NFL doesn’t exploit and make money off of these kids then you’re not exactly the brightest crayon in the box. Once a collegiate player’s eligibility is up, they’re fair game.

Maybe my idea’s stupid. I don’t know. The Pro Bowl is just as dumb of an idea. Get rid of it. No one cares. Now, I’m going back to watching the Grammy’s.