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Jamie Newberg's Mailbag
It will never happen, but I have always been a big believer in waiting until four or five weeks into the season before coming out with the top 20 in college football. That gives the voters enough games to gauge the teams across the country and make a better evaluation of everyone rather than speculating. After four weeks of college football, this is how I see the top 20 teams in the country. Ohio State is the No. 1 team in the country, but who is No. 2? One could make a case for many teams. All I can say is watch out for those Trojans.
1) Ohio State
A very good offensive line, a solid rushing attack, the fastest receiver in the game and a terrific senior quarterback. That's the formula for a super offense. The scary thing is this defense is improving. What an impressive win on the road in Austin.
The Trojans reloaded. The defense is good and the offense will get better and gain more confidence each week. They are going to be tough to beat.
The Tigers are so physical and speedy on both sides of the ball. They play great defense and have a dominant run game.
A senior quarterback feeling comfortable and gaining confidence, playmakers on the edge and a super front seven on defense.
5) West Virginia
The Mountaineers have the best one-two punch in college football in running back Steve Slaton and quarterback Patrick White. Enough said.
This is still a very good team even without the injured quarterback Brian Brohm and running back Michael Bush. Bobby Petrino has to be considered one of the top coaches in the game. They would be rated higher had Brohm and Bush been healthy.
Balance on offense and a dominating LaMarr Woodley on defense.
If the offense catches up with the defense, watch out for the Dawgs.
Missed opportunities against Auburn will haunt this Tiger team.
Despite their loss to the top ranked team, these Longhorns are still a club to watch for. 11) Oregon
Lucky to be unbeaten but still a very dangerous team with quarterback Dennis Dixon and running back Jonathan Stewart.
Running back Adrian Peterson is the MVP in college football so far this season.
13) Notre Dame
The offense has been inconsistent and the Irish secondary is getting exploited.
The Hawkeyes are laying low and hoping to ambush the Buckeyes in Iowa City this coming weekend.
The Tigers will be kicking themselves for missed opportunities in their road loss against B.C. The Clemson offense is starting to get cooking as they begin their ACC run.
16) Virginia Tech
The Hokies are one of the few ACC teams living up to expectations thus far. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year in Blacksburg.
The Frogs play defense and they have a chance to run the table.
The Vols lost a heartbreaker to the Gators but proved that they are back.
Callahan's Cornhuskers should roll through the Big 12 North.
20) Florida State
What has happened to the Seminole offense? They recovered against Rice but can they put up good numbers on a consistent basis?
The Heisman Race
Everyone else seems to chime in on the race for the Heisman Trophy. Here's my top five.
1) Adrian Peterson (RB) Oklahoma
Peterson has been spectacular, putting the Sooners on his back. Through four games he has 643 rushing yards on the season and seven touchdowns. Peterson is on pace for 2,000 yards. Through four games he has to be the MVP in college football.
2) Troy Smith (QB) Ohio State
Smith engineers one of the best and most balanced offenses in the game and for the top ranked team in the nation. Smith has completed 66% of his passes for 884 yards, eight touchdown throws and only two interceptions.
3) Steve Slaton (RB) West Virginia
Slaton is the most explosive back in college football and he showcased his talents to the nation in their big win over Maryland. But can he win the Heisman only being a sophomore? Slaton has rushed for 583 yards and six touchdowns.
4) Chris Leak (QB) Florida
Leak now feels comfortable in Urban Meyer's system and has playmakers to get the ball too. Leading the Gators from behind against the Vols on the road in the fourth quarter should boost his confidence even higher. Leak has completed 63% of his passes for 1,066 yards, 12 touchdown passes and only four interceptions.
5) Garrett Wolfe (RB) Northern Illinois
Wolfe is a long shot at best but he has put up Heisman numbers so far this season, rushing for 828 yards and eight touchdowns. In week one he torched Ohio State for 171 yards.
Did you know?
Did you realize that the state of Alabama has produced more starting quarterbacks this season in Division 1A football than Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Illinois, New Jersey and many other states? Only four states have produced more starting signal callers for this year - Texas, California, Florida and Pennsylvania.
Who are the six? It's Brandon Cox (Auburn), John Parker Wilson (Alabama), JaMarcus Russell (LSU), Chris Nixon (Vanderbilt), Patrick White (West Virginia) and Zach Champion (Louisiana Tech). Michael Henig (Mississippi State) would be included if he didn't get hurt and Chris Smelley (South Carolina) could eventually start in Columbia this season.
These guys are good. White is the hottest of the bunch and is today's version
Young or Michael
Vick. He engineers one of college football's most exciting and explosive
offenses in West Virginia. White is only a sophomore and is getting better with
each day and each game. Russell is without question the most heralded of the
bunch. He went to Baton Rouge with a ton of hype, and he has played well for the
Cox and Wilson decided to stay in-state and play for Auburn and Alabama respectively. Cox is a southpaw that manages an offense that loves to play power football while Wilson hopes to open things up in Tuscaloosa. He has played well in his first season as the Crimson Tide starter. Nixon gets to start this season after replacing Jay Cutler. He is raw but talented and has good upside for the Commodores. Like Wilson and Nixon, Champion is a first year starter for Louisiana Tech.
Texas surprisingly has produced more starting quarterbacks in college football than California, as the latter is really more known as the state when it comes to producing signal callers. Here's a breakdown of the top 10.
Starting Quarterbacks In I-A Football By State
1) Texas Â¿ 19
2) California - 18
3) Florida - 15
4) Pennsylvania - 8
5) Alabama - 6
5) Ohio - 6
7) Illinois - 5
8) Georgia - 4
8) Kentucky - 4
10) New Jersey - 3
10) Oregon - 3
10) Louisiana - 3
You mentioned that the ACC doesn't have any good offensive teams in a previous mailbag column. What about Clemson? How come you are not giving any love to my Tigers?
Billy (Charleston, South Carolina)
Ok. I was wrong with my assessment of the ACC, especially in regards to Florida State and Miami. These two Florida programs have no where near the fire power they possessed a few years ago. In fact, both the Seminole and Hurricane offenses have been poor at best. I did say a few weeks ago that these two teams have too much talent to play this badly on offense, and I still believe that to some degree.
That said, I do think you are correct in regards to your Clemson Tigers. They have an experienced and veteran offensive line and talented running backs and receivers. I knew that going into the year. The question mark is at the quarterback position. Yes Will Proctor is an older guy but he lacks playing experience, and that's what kept me from saying Clemson could be the best offensive unit in the ACC. Having seen them play a few times this season, and having seen the rest of the league, I think it is safe to say now that they will finish as the top offensive unit. And I still believe the key will be Proctor. He just needs to distribute the ball to his playmakers and avoid the big mistake. Consistency and game management with Proctor will also be crucial for Clemson to make a run at the conference title. Stay tuned because the ACC is now completely up for grabs.
Speaking of the ACC what has happened with this league? There are only two unbeaten teams at this point Â¿ Virginia Tech (4-0) and Wake Forest (4-0). Florida State had to go the distance to beat Troy. Maryland got killed by West Virginia. N.C. State lost to Akron and Southern Miss. Miami got trounced by Louisville. North Carolina lost to Rutgers and barely got by Furman. Virginia lost to Western Michigan and squeaked by Wyoming. Duke got shut out by Richmond.
Last season this league had 12 players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft and 52 players overall. Perhaps the ACC isn't quite as deep as once thought. Miami and Florida State, the two perennial powerhouses have slipped a notch. Teams like Virginia and N.C. State have not lived up to expectations while others have remained stagnant. The ACC has quality in coaches from top to bottom, but for whatever reason is not the same conference this year as in years past. And as things stand right now there could quite possibly be some coaching changes after the season.
You can place most of the blame on the offenses in the ACC. Name one marquee offensive player in the league other than Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson? What happened to all the firepower? Where are the quarterbacks? What about the rushing game? Eight of the ACC teams rank in the bottom half of rushing offenses in all of college football Â¿ Virginia (117th), Duke (116), FSU (82), BC (72), Virginia Tech (74), N.C. State (67), North Carolina (69) and Miami (61). In regards to total offense only two teams are in the top 50 Â¿ Boston College and Clemson. Perhaps the most telling stat is scoring offense, where again only three ACC teams are in the top 50 in the country in scoring Â¿ Clemson (yes, the Tigers average the most points in the ACC), Virginia Tech and Boston College.
Something is amiss because there are too many quality programs in the ACC to play this poorly out of the gate. Maybe it's just one of those years. So far, it's been down right offensive.
Where do you see Noel Devine attending college?
James (Summerfield, Florida)
If I had a dollar for each time I have been asked about where running back Noel Devine would play college football I would be a rich man. That question has to be the hottest topic in college football recruiting. And if I knew...
Seriously, after speaking with his head coach, James Iandoli, I really do not know. No one doubt's Devine's abilities, despite being a smaller back. There is no question that he's talented enough to play for anyone in the nation. I mean anyone, whether it's USC or Texas. This kid is that good. But face it; he may have to start out in Prep School or at a Junior College. Devine has seen the writing on the wall and supposedly taken the necessary steps to rectify his academic situation. Will it be enough? No one knows the answer to that question either, and it could be too late, at least for Devine playing major college ball next fall. Regardless, he still has time to make things right, whether we all see him in a college uniform next season or in two years.
Let's just say for a minute he is on track to qualify, predicting where he will end up in another story. According to his coach Iandoli, he doesn't know nor does Devine. Right now he's concentrating on his kids, school and football and in that order. Iandolo also told me he has not really been anywhere or seen any schools. FSU seems to be the most logical because he is from the same high school team as Deion Sanders (North Fort Myers), and he has a relationship with Primetime. Perhaps the door is open for some out-of-state teams that have offered him like Nebraska.
I do know that everyone is calling Mr. Devine. Coaches want to lay the groundwork for perhaps a late recruiting run with him once the football season winds down and the recruiting season really heats up. If his academics and personal life are in any kind of order, we will see a recruiting battle unlike any other for this sensational running back prospect.
I was wondering on how Wisconsin is doing in recruiting in the Midwest with some of the bigger names like John Clay and Josh Brent. I was kind of hoping to get your insight on how the Badgers current class is shaping up?
The key to recruiting for any team is owning your state. If you don't own it in terms of recruiting then good luck on the gridiron. States like Wisconsin are not blessed with the numbers of high quality Big 10 prospects like you have in Ohio and Pennsylvania, but each year there some blue-chippers that have the talent to play in Madison. The numbers aren't great but it's a solid base. The rest have to be out of state guys.
This season, two of the nation's top prospects are from Wisconsin in offensive tackle Josh Oglesby and running back John Clay. Oglesby is the nation's top offensive lineman while Clay is the country's No. 4 rated running back. Oglesby has already committed to the Badgers while Clay lists Wisconsin along with Nebraska, Ohio State, Tennessee and Iowa. Clay is a must get for Wisconsin.
The Badgers have already landed four of the state's five top prospects in Ogelsby, wide receiver Nick Toon, tight end Patrick Butrym, and running back Louis Nzegwu. Clay is the lone prospect among the top five that the Badgers have not gotten a verbal from so far. They have landed eight commitments and five are from in-staters.
You asked about Josh Brent from the state of Illinois. He is one of the nation's top defensive line prospects and he is leaning out of state to Ohio State at this time. So the Buckeyes are leading and watch out for Ron Zook and the Fighting Illini with him. Michigan is also in the mix and he has set up visits with Michigan (12-1), Ohio State (12-8) and Arizona State (1-20) thus far.
There are some key players that new Head Coach Bret Bielema must get. He has to start with Clay and get the top players from Wisconsin and then they need to do well outside the state. That makes things a little harder but they are hitting Florida hard along with states in the Midwest region. To be honest, it's a tad early to really tell how things will fall for the Badgers but I think they are off to a pretty nice start. A good season will certainly go a long way once these recruiting battles really heat up.
Who would you say are the top recruiting classes right now?
Billy (Atlanta, Georgia)
Here is a little sneak preview of the Scout.com Top 10. We will unveil our team recruiting rankings in the next two weeks after we go through a rankings revision and rank each position deeper. Those changes will obviously have implications on the overall team rankings.
1) Texas (23 commitments)
It's Texas in a landslide. But that's right now in September. I doubt things will stay this way with the Longhorns No. 1 on National Signing Day. I am sure Mack Brown could care less because regardless of where they finish Texas will bring in another great haul to Austin that includes quarterback John Brantley, wide receivers John Chiles and Malcolm Williams, tight end Blaine Irby, offensive linemen Tray Allen and Michael Huey, defensive tackle Andre Jones, defensive end Russell Carter, and cornerbacks Ben Wells and Curtis Brown.
2) USC (9)
Depending on how the (scholarship) numbers shake out could determine whether the Trojans win the mythical recruiting national championship once again. Then again, the numbers may not matter if USC keeps this pace. Five of their nine commitments are from five star prospects and the other four are four star prospects. That's star power. The list includes quarterbacks Aaron Corp and Samson Szakacsy, running backs Marc Tyler and Broderick Green, offensive linemen Martin Coleman and James Wilson, defensive end Michael Reardon, linebacker Chris Galippo and safety Marshall Jones.
3) Michigan (13)
The key to the Wolverine's recruiting run this season will be how they handle their own state, as it is the deepest year I can ever remember in the state of Michigan. That said the maize and blue have 13 commitments and only four from their backyard Â¿ fullback Vince Helmuth, wide receivers Martell Webb and James Rogers, and defensive end Ryan VanBergen. Also headed to Ann Arbor up to this point is quarterback Ryan Mallett, wide receiver J.R. Hemingway, center Dave Molk and safety Jerimy Finch.
4) Florida (14)
The Gators have recruited as good and as consistent as anyone in the country. They check in at No. 4 and are only about 50% complete, as they once again have big scholarship numbers. Quarterback Cam Newton, wide receivers Joe Haden and Chris Rainey, tight end Aaron Hernandez, offensive linemen Michael and Markice Pouncey, defensive tackle Torrey Davis, and cornerback Ahmad Black are all some big time recruits headed to Gainesville.
5) Notre Dame (9)
Charlie Weis is going to finish with a very good class and this group will be led by quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Wide receiver Duval Kamara, tight end Mike Ragone, defensive end Justin Trattou, and cornerback Gary Gray are some other standouts headed to South Bend.
6) Georgia Tech (15)
Every year there is a surprise in the team recruiting rankings and this season it will be the Yellow Jackets. They may not finish in the top five but they will finish well. Georgia Tech should only bring in around 18 prospects or so, so they are just about done. Quarterbacks Josh Nesbitt and Steven Threet, running backs Jonathan Dwyer and Roddy Jones, offensive lineman Nick Claytor, defensive tackle Jacoby Monroe, linebacker Brad Jefferson and safety D.J. Donley are all headed to Atlanta.
7) Georgia (18)
The Dawgs will load up once again with players like quarterback Logan Gray, wide receiver Israel Troupe, tight end Aron White, offensive linemen Antwane Greenlee and Trinton Sturdivant, linebacker Rennie Curran and safety John Knox.
8) Virginia Tech (25)
The Hokies surpassed the Longhorns with the most commitments and Virginia Tech got most of them within a month over the summer. This group headed to Blacksburg is led by quarterback Tyrod Taylor, running back Darren Evans, offensive tackle Will Alvarez, linebacker Hunter Owens, and safety Davon Morgan.
9) UCLA (7)
The Bruins don't have many scholarships this season but the Bruins will certainly bring in some great quality like quarterback Chris Forcier, running back Raymond Carter, tight end Nate Chandler, defensive tackle Brian Price, defensive end Akeem Ayers, linebacker Steve Sloan and cornerback Courtney Viney.
10) Ole Miss (17)
The Rebels exploded out of the gate and will once again land a top 15 class. Ole Miss is led by running back Robert Elliot, linebacker Chris Strong, defensive tackle Ted Laurent, and cornerbacks Leroy Diggs and Jamison Hughes.
Jamie Newberg is a National Recruiting Editor for Scout.com. If you would like to submit a question on college football or recruiting please click here - Ask Question For Jamie's Mailbag