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December 24, 2010

Ask Mike: Can Golden get top talent?

Mike Farrell is a national football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly Ask Mike feature.
Previous mailbags
Dec 10: Effect of coaching moves
Dec 3: Which players stick with Miami?
Nov 19: Georgia still battling

Got a question? Click here to send it to Mike Farrell

Can Al Golden recruit at an elite level at Miami?

Which schools lead for Curtis Grant, Jadeveon Clowney and Cyrus Kouandjio?

Does the Florida State class have a chance of finishing as the nation's best?

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


Can he recruit?

How will Al Golden be as a recruiter for Miami coming from a small program like Temple? Can he recruit at a high level?

- Ted from Daytona Beach, Fla.

Keep in mind that prior to turning around a Temple program that was at rock bottom, Golden was an amazing recruiter at stops at Boston College, Penn State and Virginia and earned the nickname "Golden Al" because of his ability to recruit.

He got four stars to BC as a young assistant (not easy to do), he landed some top recruits in his short stint at Penn State and he and his current defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio killed it on the trail at Virginia, especially in New Jersey.

Look for Golden and his staff to be very aggressive and active recruiters and not only hit Florida but also have success up in the Northeast where his roots are. Miami won't have a top 15 class this year because of numbers but I fully expect the 'Canes to compete with FSU and Florida next year for top 15 or top 10 classes. Don't worry Miami fans, Al Golden can recruit.


Nova 'Cane?

What are your thoughts on QB Gary Nova, and what are the chances the Canes land him?

- Andre from Seattle, Wash.

Another 'Cane question and I think Miami has a shot at Nova. I would say Rutgers has the best chance at Nova because of the hire of Jeff Hafley who was the assistant who recruited him to Pitt, but Miami and Virginia are right in there as well and all over him.

As for his best shot at playing time, Miami could be it because he's a much better fit in an Al Golden offense than any of the quarterbacks Miami currently has and Miami would be the only program of the three that doesn't already have another quarterback in the 2011 class.

Nova is a game manager but he has the potential to step up and be a leader in a pro-style offense for a team that needs one and Miami is sorely lacking in that respect. He'd be a very good fit down there and I know Golden covets him.


Going after Grant

Mike, supposedly Curtis Grant's visit to Columbus went extremely well, so what do you think the chances are that the Buckeyes actually land him in February?

- Jordan from Columbus, Ohio

Right now I think the chances are very good, but we'll see how his Florida and North Carolina visits go and if Virginia remains in the race. Right now I think it's Ohio State, Florida, Virginia and North Carolina in that order.

Florida has long been his leader and he liked his initial talk with Will Muschamp but he was really blown away by his Ohio State visit so the Buckeyes have the edge right now.


Where to?

Where do Ishaq Williams and Savon Huggins go?

- Jim from Flemington, N.J.

To me, Huggins is the easier prediction as I think he'll end up at Rutgers and have thought so all along. Even with Notre Dame making a big move of late, North Carolina having family in the area and Auburn selling its great running back tradition, but in the end I think he stays home. Michigan State now is scheduled for a visit and there had been talk of a trip out to see USC, but Rutgers gets the last visit and the comfort level and early playing time is high there.

As for Williams, this is tougher to call. As of last week I heard from a good source that Penn State was fading and that this was down to Notre Dame and Syracuse with the edge to the Irish but 'Cuse in position to pull a stunner. However, I confirmed this week that Penn State is very much in the mix and that this is too close to call right now as Williams doesn't even know yet. There is an Ishaq Williams that shows up on the Penn State college student directory but I have been assured that it doesn't mean much as he and his family completed the enrollment process at all three of the schools he is choosing between. Best guess right now is still Notre Dame, but it's a guess. He will announce at the U.S. Army All American Bowl.


Closing strong

With Florida State's Class filling up, who do you see the 'Noles have commit towards the end? Do you think they have a chance to bypass Texas or Alabama in the current class rankings?

- Chris in Afghanistan

First off Chris, thanks for your service to our country as I assume you are not vacationing in Afghanistan. As for the way Florida State will finish, I think you're going to be happy.

I am pretty confident they will land linebacker Tony Steward as well as quarterback Jacoby Brissett and tight end Nick O'Leary and they appear to be a lock for linebacker Arrington Jenkins. I also think the 'Noles are the team to beat for wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and they have a better than one-in-three chance to land some players like Jermauria Rasco, Timmy Jernigan, Elkino Watson and others.

FSU has as good a shot as anyone when it comes to knocking out Texas from the top spot.


The favorite

With recruiting winding down to about six weeks, what percentage would you give Jadeveon Clowney committing to South Carolina, Alabama, others?

- David from Richland, Wash.

I'll just go with flat percentages based on the schools he lists in his top five for you…

South Carolina - 65 percent
Alabama - 25 percent
Florida State -5 percent
LSU - 5 percent
Clemson - 0 percent

This is a two-team battle in my book between the Gamecocks and the Tide and it is clearly leaning the way of his home-state school.


USC's chances

What are the odds USC gets Marqise Lee, Viliami Moala and Greg Townsend Jr.?

- Arturo from Chicago, Ill.

These percentage questions are easy, I like them.

In this case I think Lee and Townsend are heavy, heavy leans to USC (probably 65-70 percent for each) while Moala I fully expect to end up at Cal. He's been a near lock for the Bears for quite some time now and is actually considered by many to be a silent commitment.


Solid staffs

Which coaching staffs have the best recruiters (not including the head coach)? Possibly provide a top five?

- Curt from Washington, D.C.

This is a tough question, especially with all the coaching changes going on. This answer would have been a bit different before the big move of Will Muschamp to Florida because the Gators would have easily made the list with Urban Meyer's previous staff, but it's unclear who Muschamp will hire.

His loss also hurts Texas recruiting a bit, but the Longhorns don't make this list anyhow because I just don't think it's as big a challenge to recruit there than it is elsewhere. So I'll say Alabama, Florida State, Clemson, Auburn and Stanford in no order have the best recruiting staffs right now in the country.

With 'Bama, FSU and Auburn it's just top to bottom recruiters on those staffs and I think the Clemson and Stanford staffs have done some of the best and most surprising work of the year.


Auburn targets

What are Auburn's chances of getting Ray Drew, Marcus Roberson and Gabe Wright?

- Sree Arun Sajja from DeKalb, Ga.

I think Roberson is very close to being an Auburn lock, at least that's what I hear from numerous sources. As for Wright, he was also as close to being an Auburn lock as possible as recently as a couple of weeks ago, but keep an eye on Tennessee here as the Vols have done a good job recruiting him and could be a parental favorite in the Wright household. That being said I would still say chances are better than not he will end up with Auburn come Signing Day.

Drew is the hardest one to figure out, but fans can't sleep on Auburn. While most expect him to end up at Georgia and some think LSU is the team to beat but I have heard from a few good sources that Drew favors Auburn or at the very least likes them as much as he does the Dawgs. This could change quickly as the Isaiah Crowell situation did based on his remaining visits or other factors and I know he really likes Mark Richt, but if he doesn't end up at Georgia I would expect him to land in Auburn.


Making up ground?

Who is in the lead for Doran Grant - MSU or OSU?

- Ken from Englewood, Colo.

I still think Ohio State lands Grant in the end but things have tightened up a bit as confidence is higher in East Lansing and not quite as high in Columbus. But that, to me, simply cuts down OSU's lead from 80-20 to around 60-40 and if he were to pick today it would be the Buckeyes I believe.


Handicapping the Cyrus sweepstakes

Cyrus Kouandjio is a five-star offensive tackle and is being heavily recruited. He has Iowa among his finalists and will visit the Hawkeyes in January. Their pitch has to be that they put an awful lot of offensive linemen into the NFL, but his brother plays for Alabama. So, does anyone other than the Tide really have a shot at signing him?

- James from San Carlos, Calif.

I think he's all Tide to be honest unless one of two things happens. First, he will visit USC and if he's blown away by that visit and doesn't want to compete with his brother, Arie Kouandjio, for playing time, then the Trojans are a real option. Arie loved it out there on his visit and Cyrus is much more of an L.A. kind of kid.

The other way would be if New Mexico head coach Mike Locksley were named head coach at Maryland (unlikely but his name is still out there) or if he were to head back to Maryland as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. Not sure he'd take that step down but there have been rumors and if Locksley is at Maryland, I think Cyrus would consider staying home and playing for the Terps.

Both of these, however, are longshots and I think he ends up at Alabama. Iowa will get a visit, but I don't see it happening for one simple reason - Cyrus hates the cold with a passion.

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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