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Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Opening the mailbag: Why do recruits go where they go?

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Excited about using my new letter opener.

Mitch from Alameda, Calif., writes: After reviewing the invitee list for the NFL combine, I noticed one name from the Ducks that wasn't included: Nick Reed. I saw the posting on the Duck Feed regarding the "snub," but I was wondering what your take is. 13 solo sacks and 20 tackles for loss in 2008 should speak for something, right?

Ted Miller: Got a lot of notes about Reed's omission.

One word: Measurables.

Reed is undersized (he's generously listed at 6-foot-2, 255 pounds). And, well, slow -- at least for a player his size trying to make the NFL as a front-seven guy.

Reed is mostly projected to go undrafted, but perhaps someone will take a late-round flier on him.

All it takes is one coach who values production and a high-grade motor.

And Reed could still get an combine invitation -- a handful of guys get late calls every year. If not, then Reed needs to be impressive during the Ducks' pro days on March 12 and 19.


Michael from Los Angeles writes: As of February 2, 2009, there are 2 Pac-10 teams in the top 25 of the recruit rankings (according to ESPN)- USC and Stanford. Okay, I know USC is USC, but Stanford went 4-8 and 5-7 the last 2 years. Even though Stanford is a great academic school, so are UCLA, Cal, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, etc. Why or how are these schools not bringing in top talent when each year they outperform many other schools listed in the top 25 recruiting classes?

Ted Miller: As for Stanford, coach Jim Harbaugh is clearly a good recruiter. But I'll also say -- again -- that a savvy coach should always be able to get a top-25 class at Stanford. It's a unique opportunity to combine Ivy League academics and BCS football, and a surprising number off young men want just that.

As for the rest, my guess is that at least one or two other Pac-10 teams will end up in the top 25. California, UCLA and Arizona State are still in on some big names who could give them a late boost.

That said: My perception is this was a down year on the West Coast for recruiting, particularly in the Northwest. If the prospects aren't there, then the rankings will suffer.


Kenji from Parts Unknown writes: Do you ever wonder WHAT some of these recruits are thinking when they make their decisions? Does [Adam] Hall "think" about who will be throwing to him when he commits to Arizona? How does he not consider his QB, say like Barkley at USC being a better option to be thrown to? I believe recruits all too often think only one level deep, "can I start right away?"

Ted Miller: First, Hall wants to play safety for Arizona. Second, he apparently wants to play near his hometown of Tucson. Third, some guys would rather be a big fish in a smaller pond. Fourth, Hall can get to the NFL just as easily as a Wildcat as a Trojan. All he needs to do is dominate football games.

And let's give credit to coach Mike Stoops and his staff for keeping the hometown kid home. There was a lot of pressure to get Hall, and Stoops came through.


Jess from North Bend, Ore., writes: Why do so many highly touted players decide to play for USC instead of going to a team where they have a better chance of getting playing time? For instance, USC has tons of high school stars who don't get to play until they are juniors or seniors if at all. It happens every year and yet they still go there. Explain.

Ted Miller: First, word is Pete Carroll is pretty hard to turn down. Second, highly competitive, elite prospects often aren't afraid of competing for playing time at USC. They think they are the best and the other guys are the poor souls headed for the bench.

Third, Southern California. Sunshine. Los Angeles. Bright lights. Big City. Lots of things to look at.

Fourth, USC is USC. It's got incredible tradition and under Carroll it's become the nation's premier college football program.


Ian from Parts Unknown writes: Great recruiting moment stories. By the way whatever happened to [Kevin] Hart? Did he go to a college for football??

Ted Miller: Glad you asked, Ian. Kevin Hart is trying to put his embarrassing moment behind him.

Great "Outside the Lines" piece here from Tom Friend. Watch and muster some sympathy for the guy we all laughed at. Good luck to him.

Jordan from Phoenix writes: Ted, I'm a fan of Darron Thomas, so Tahj Boyd passing up Oregon wasn't a huge disappointment. But the whole "spread QBs don't work in the NFL" thing seems...I don't know...off. I mean, there are four former Oregon QBs in the NFL right now. Granted, none are all that spectacular, but they're there. But Boyd picked Clemson, who's produced...Charlie Whitehurst. Is the spread really all that bad? QBs still have to make reads and throws, right?

Ted Miller: Word I got is Boyd tapped Clemson, in large part, because it was closest to his Hampton, Va., home.

As for the spread, it's not specifically a "pro" offense, so, yes, an NFL coach would raise an eyebrow over a spread quarterback. The biggest issue is a college quarterback who worked almost exclusively in the shotgun getting used to taking snaps under center. It doesn't sound like a huge adjustment but it apparently is.

Still, if a quarterback is an accurate, efficient college passer who just so happens to have great athletic ability, well, my guess is the NFL is still going to want that guy.

It also helps if he's 6-foot-4, 230 pounds and can hurl a ball 75 yards with a wrist flick.


Ryan in Salt Lake City writes: What about California has you believing they have the best shot at bring down USC. If Oregon gets both lines figured out they could be very good. California has yet to find a solid quarterback and Best can only do so much. Masoli should be scary good next year and Blount will plow his way to Jonathan Stewart like numbers.

Ted Miller: "If Oregon gets both lines figured out ..."

Gosh, Ryan, getting both lines figured out is, well, a lot of figuring.

Jeremiah Masoli and LeGarrette Blount make for a great start, but there are a lot of question marks for the Ducks. Not saying they won't get adequately answered, just saying the jury is out.

There are far fewer variables with Cal. For better or worse, preseason projections give a lot of weight to returning starters and the Bears have 18.

I also believe that Kevin Riley and his receivers will be way better in 2009.