Who are some sleepers to track?
Might Georgia be losing its grip on the Peach State?
Is Alabama getting too many early commitments?
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These questions and more are addressed by Rivals.com analyst Keith Niebuhr in this Southeast region recruiting mailbag.
Remember these names
Who are a few (juniors) who either have zero offers or only a few that you think could ultimately land at big-time schools?
- Fred from Atlanta
Let's start with quarterback Patton Robinette from Maryville, Tenn. He's a kid all of our analysts really like on film. At 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, he has an ideal frame. And when you watch his highlights you see someone who not only has a strong, accurate arm, but a nice presence in the pocket and also can run if needed. In his first season as a starting quarterback, he led his team to a state title. At last check, Robinette had only two offers (Arkansas State, Memphis). Before long, he'll likely have plenty more.
Also, keep an eye on running back Andrecus Jackson, linebacker Nat Parham and receiver/defensive back Fred Tiller, none of whom have any offers just yet.
Jackson, who plays at Decatur (Ga.) Southwest Dekalb, one of the state's most well-known programs, rushed for 560 yards on 9.0 yards per attempt last season while splitting carries with four other backs. The 5-foot-10, 195-pounder runs low to the ground, makes excellent cuts, has good speed and shows surprising power.
Parham, of Decaturville (Tenn.) Riverside, is a good-looking inside linebacker who has only played one season of high school football. He'll be at Tennessee's junior day this weekend and is hearing from some other SEC programs as well.
Tiller, who plays at Georgia small-school power Clinch County, averaged nearly 24 yards per reception last season. He also could play safety in college. Several programs are interested (Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Tennessee among them). Offers likely will start to come once Tiller gets a test score, which his coach predicts will happen soon.
Georgia should be fine in-state
Coming off a strong year in the state, Georgia already seems to be losing out on top 2012 in-state players. Is this a serious concern?
- Don from Roswell, Ga.
While it's true some of Georgia's better 2012 talents have committed to out-of-state schools, it's still very early. The Peach State is absolutely loaded in this cycle, so there is plenty of talent to go around.
Two excellent running backs - Mike Davis of Stone Mountain Stephenson and Atlanta Washington's Justin Taylor did just commit to Florida and Alabama, respectively, within the last week. But remember, the Bulldogs landed five-star back Isaiah Crowell in February. And, the word is, they weren't really after either Davis or Taylor.
The truth is, Georgia hasn't lost out on many of its primary 2012 in-state targets. Right now, the Bulldogs appear to be very much in the picture for some of the state's best - players such as cornerback Deion Bonner, athlete Josh Clemons quarterback Greyson Lambert, tight end Ricky Parks, cornerback Geno Smith and defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor.
How Georgia ultimately does on the recruiting trail may depend on whether the program turns things around on the field this fall.
Bama looking strong
With Alabama getting so many recruits so early, could that hurt it with big prospects down the stretch?
- Len from Fort Knox, Ky.
Probably not. First of all, let's talk about the guys Alabama is getting commitments from. These aren't exactly dud recruits. Almost every commitment has come from a top-notch player who had other major offers. Although we haven't come out with our rankings for the Class of 2012, many of these players are likely to end up highly ranked.
Take Thomasville (Ala.) athlete Tyler Hayes, for instance. He also had an Auburn offer. Or Prattville (Ala.) dual-threat quarterback Justin Thomas, who picked the Tide over offers from Auburn, Florida, LSU and Miami.
Landing these types of players now should help, not hurt Alabama down the stretch. While fans and parents sometimes think players shy away from competition, the elite athletes often think the opposite. They want to play and compete with the best. And most want to be part of a stellar class.
With Shane Beamer leaving to join his dad at Virginia Tech, how does that affect the recruiting efforts at South Carolina?
- Michael from Charleston, S.C.
There is no doubt Beamer did an outstanding job as recruiting coordinator for the Gamecocks, and he will be missed. When Beamer took over that role in 2009, he made recruiting the Palmetto State a priority. In all corners of that state, Beamer, who is known for being extremely personable, showed his face. And that work paid off.
Beamer landed several key players, perhaps most notably receiver Alshon Jeffery. Earlier this month, he hauled in two of the Gamecocks' top athletes in the 2011 class - tight end Jerell Adams and defensive tackle Phillip Dukes.
In other words, Beamer is a nice pickup for the Hokies.
The Gamecocks, however, appear to have found a suitable replacement with Steve Spurrier Jr., a guy who has been on the staff a long time and knows the state very well. Spurrier Jr. told GamecockCentral.com he will continue to make in-state recruiting a major priority. Having continued success there will be crucial. It probably won't hurt that Spurrier Jr. also has strong ties to Florida.
Crowell could start
Should running back Isaiah Crowell start immediately at Georgia?
- Allan from Vernon, N.J.
I don't know about "should" but it certainly seems possible he "could." Georgia ranked just 73rd in rushing offense (142.62 yards per game) in 2010. Now consider this: The team's leading rusher, junior-to-be Washaun Ealey (157 carries, 811 yards) was suspended earlier this month from all team activities. Meantime, No. 2 back Caleb King was academically ineligible for the Liberty Bowl.
Crowell has said he expects to start. Georgia coach Mark Richt has hinted it could happen.
When you watch Crowell's highlights it is clear he's a player who has all the tools to be successful in the SEC. But the truth is, time will tell whether he will be physically and mentally ready come fall.