- Tom Luginbill, ESPN Staff Writer
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We're back with another edition of the #AskLoogs Twitter mailbag. If you missed last week's discussion, check it out here.
As always, make sure to use the hashtag #AskLoogs to get in on our discussion. I'll try to answer fan questions on player rankings and scouting each Wednesday from 2-3 p.m. ET on Twitter, with the five best making it to this weekly mailbag, but you can send questions in anytime and I'll get to as many as I can.
This week, I'll tackle questions about Miami versus FSU, a battle between two SEC programs, a big '15 commit and much more. No more delaying -- let's get right to your questions.
@TomLuginbill U have always been a stand up guy to answering questions. How is Miami 6 spots lowers than FSU, with almost a identical class?
— Sean Korte (@SeanKorte) July 24, 2013
Fair question. While the first thing you see is where the team is ranked, what is not as obvious is how little actually separates them. So in actuality, FSU and Miami are closer than the five spot differential makes them look. Yes, FSU and Miami have similar classes, and if you want to argue that Miami should be higher within the top 10, you could probably make a strong argument for that. When you start getting closer to the top, especially toward the top five, all those classes are very strong, and one thing that starts to separate them a little is the depth of the class.
Miami's class is very strong at the top and overall is very good, but it's not quite as strong throughout as compared to some of the teams around it in that top five area. While there are many factors we consider -- how we have players ranked, the depth of the class, a team's needs, its depth chart, etc. -- the Canes are slightly lower than other teams in our rankings. In some instances, that difference is very slight, but we don't have ties. Someone is always going to be ranked higher than someone else.
Miami has a great class led by RB Joseph Yearby (Miami/Miami Central), who is No. 20 in the ESPN 300 and our third-ranked RB. We love the O-line pickups, and DE Chad Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington) was a nice recent addition who addresses a need. The Canes still need to get bigger on defense, particularly at LB, and have not addressed this yet. So while they have been moving up the rankings, the difference between them and the teams above them is not very big.
A couple things to note: With updated player rankings coming out soon, the class rankings could change. Also, remember there is still a way to go until national signing day, so it's far from over when it comes to rankings. Finally, keep in mind that while we obviously factor our rankings into the equations when evaluating classes, we aren't using a points or a mathematical equation to decide something that is incredibly subjective.
— Ryan Stevens (@_Ryan_Stevens_) July 24, 2013
So much of that answer may depend on what type of season they both have. In other words, who can maintain positive buzz and momentum off the field if things aren't going well on the field this fall? Both Kentucky and Tennessee are well aware that it could be a bumpy road in 2013 and in recruiting, those committed to both programs will likely be hotly pursued during the fall by other programs that won't be afraid to use Tennessee's and Kentucky's lack of success against them.
To answer your question, I would lean toward Tennessee right now, if not for any other reason than the Vols carry more weight from a perception standpoint and have greater resources as a whole than Kentucky does. However, relative to what Kentucky is right now in the world of college football, the Wildcats' class might be more impactful because if they are able to maintain this pace, this kind of class is something that has rarely been accomplished at Kentucky and can create the necessary foundation for long-term success. Regardless, both programs will have to ward off negative recruiting tactics from September through national signing day.
Bielema's '14 class is in the late 30s and '15 is better. Can I stop sweating? #AskLoogs
— William Knox (@nowifebill) July 24, 2013
Yes and no. Arkansas has proved it can recruit and field a product capable of winning eight, nine and even 10 games consistently, and Bret Bielema has proved he can too. Bielema and his staff will get things done in the offensive line, running back and various other positions. It is likely they will not have an overly dynamic QB unless they change their philosophy on the position. The question with Arkansas always has been and always will be whether or not it can lure top-flight defensive difference-makers in the front seven to Fayetteville. Houston Nutt had great teams, Bobby Petrino had great teams, but until the Hogs can compete in the trenches with the likes of Alabama, LSU, Florida, Georgia, etc., it is difficult for them to be better than third or fourth in the West. This is the same challenge Missouri has. Right now Arkansas's top prospect in the class is ESPN 300 DT Bijhon Jackson (El Dorado, Ark./El Dorado), which is a good start. We really like ESPN Junior 300 QB-PP Ty Storey (Charleston, Ark./Charleston) out of the 2015 class.
— Jimmy S. (@JSchar87) July 24, 2013
Jovan Durante (Miami/Miami Jackson) sits at No. 254 in our initial ESPN Junior 300 with a high three-star grade. He displays an explosive first step, whether it is from the line, after the catch or on handoffs as a slot runner. He distinguishes between zone and man and alters his speed accordingly with his recognition skills. He also flashes an understanding of how to work leverage and attack DB. We like that he plays the game hard, whether catching it, blocking or going after the ball as a DB.
While Durante is a nice, early addition for the Mountaineers, it isn't the offensive side of the ball that Dana Holgorsen and Co. need to be concerned about. If they don't start improving on defense -- and in a hurry -- this is going to be a 6-6, 7-5 team in the Big 12, and that won't be good enough for WVU's standards. It's not all about offense. It's more about stopping people, and last season, WVU gave up 45 or more points six -- six! -- times.
— Marty Matthews (@MartyM10) July 24, 2013
I am going to give a brief answer here, but the links included below this response will give you a real detailed idea about our process. I encourage you to watch. It all starts with list-gathering of thousands (and I mean more than 10,000) of prospects in each class. We gather these lists from a variety of sources and then begin to cross-check who is showing up multiple times. That gives us a fairly narrowed-down idea of whom we start to evaluate first. It is important to note we aren't regionally based. Our evaluation efforts are broken up by position to each individual scout who is then responsible for those positions regardless of state, region, classification or level of competition. In fact, this very way of doing things allows for us to avoid regional bias from an individual scout. It also allows for us to make an objective comparative analysis of a player's ability versus another and also gauge level of competition.
With Twitter questions about Miami vs. FSU, a big SEC battle and many more, Tom Luginbill answers them all.