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Thursday, Feb. 7 at 1 p.m. ET

College Football Signing Day

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Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 7, 2008; 1:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Josh Barr will be online Thursday, Feb. 7, at 1 p.m. ET to analyze the local and national ramifications of college football's signing day.

A transcript follows.

Recruiting Insider blog


Josh Barr: Hi everyone to the day after. Which means only 365 more days until juniors can sign their college football letters-of-intent. For those keeping score, Stone Bridge lineman David Wang was the first local junior to announce his college choice, on Sept. 1 committing to play for Virginia Tech.


Fairfax, Va.: You're a NFL scout. You look at a kid like Ryan Williams, who was smart enough to pick a consistent BCS participant in Virginia Tech. Then you take a kid like Josh Haden, who was stupid enough to jilt Florida for a joke like Boston College? Four years from now, don't you mark down Haden, figuring he took the easy road and was too lazy to challenge himself? Don't you as a reporter have a responsibility to set kids like that straight, and to affirm kids like Williams for being smart and seeing the big picture?

Josh Barr: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Forgot about the whole Virginia Tech/BC comparison, which I don't even know how to start with.

I doubt any NFL team looks at things this way. Personally, I come from a completely different mindset. I think NFL teams will find players anywhere and everywhere -- regardless of the level of competition in college. When I hear players or parents discussing being recruited by Ivy Leagues but instead choosing some school with a middle-of-the-road academic program because it's Division I-A or I-AA or some such, I shake my head.


Upper Marlboro, Md.: Josh, just curious about WVU's recruitment class. How did the Mountaineer's do even with Coach Rod's departure to Michigan. They did sign a running back from Dematha. What do you know about him? I understand Pat Whites little brother also signed? Thanks

Josh Barr: I don't know much about West Virginia. Here's what one of the Charleston papers had to say today:


New coach Bill Stewart said the coaching change didn't affect WVU's recruiting efforts. But even if it did, would Stewart say so? Don't know the answer to that one.

As for Ryan Clarke, it could work out to be a good fit. He plays a position, fullback, that many teams simply don't use or at least, don't place much priority on. For him, finding the right fit was key.


Hoax: Hey Josh,

How did the guy who pulled the hoax think he was going to get away with this? Didn't appear he had an endgame. Rather stupid.

But overall, it was rather funny to watch the video of him picking CAL and everybody congratulating him. Wouldn't his coaches and parents know this guy did not have the ability and/or grades to get a full ride from these schools?

Ignorance is bliss I guess.

Josh Barr: I've been covering high schools and college sports at The Post for more than 12 years now and I have to say, this ranks up there among the most bizarre things I've ever seen. Certainly tops in recruiting.

I'm not sure what the kid was thinking. It's one think to lead on your parents, friends, etc. But to have a full-school assembly, invite the newspaper and some tv stations? And think it's going to fly?

I don't think the story is done, though. There are going to be some questions for the adults in the process -- from parents to coaches and administrators. Would/should/did any of them know what was going on -- or have a clue that something was amiss?

One thing I'll say about this story -- the folks I've dealt with in Nevada could not have been much nicer or accomodating in helping reporters they've never dealt with before -- from myself, the New York Times, ESPN and Sports Illustrated and on and on. Starting with my first call to the head of Nevada public school athletics, Eddie Bonine, who said, "Wow, I'm talking to folks today I've never heard from before." To Kevin Hart, who took my call yesterday and politely said he didn't want to say more.


Chicago: What in the world is the story with that kid out in Nevada? Was he duped? Is he lying? And how does his coach let it go this far - they called a press conference, for crying out loud, to announce he was going to a school that hadn't even recruited him!

Josh Barr: Check out today's story, I think the kind folks at washingtonpost.com are going to throw up a link.


S. Rockville, Md.: What did Ron Zook (and Mike Locksley) do that they were able to take two linemen away from Al Groh and UVA in the closing weeks?

Josh Barr: Well, I can answer for Ugo Uzodinma, the Dunbar defensive lineman who swtiched two weeks back. He had been recruited by Virginia defensive coordinator Mike London, who left to become the head coach at Richmond. When London left, Uzodinma wanted to reexamine his options and (who else) was prepared to make a pitch but Locksley. The Ballou alum and former Maryland recruiting player seems to own the DCIAA right now.


M Street NW, Washington, D.C.: Is this "event" being hyped more than in the past? It certainly seems to be, at least to me. Isn't it a bit much? How long before Mel Kiper Jr. starts a signing day telecast on ESPN 2? Wait, please tell me this doesn't already exist, right?

Josh Barr: No question. And I think most folks would agree. That said, when I asked Ralph Friedgen about this yesterday on Washington Post Live, he said he thinks the hype surrounding recruiting will only get bigger. That's tough to believe, but I guess it's possible.


washingtonpost.com: This Recruit Is Unreal (Post, Feb. 6)

Josh Barr: Here's today's story on the Nevada player who won't be going to Cal on a football scholarship.


Washington, D.C.: How do think Gerald Moore of St. John's High School will do at the next level?

Josh Barr: Is this Gerald? I think he'll have a chance to do well. I rarely make specific predictions, because even the most highly-rated players (Wesley Jefferson?) fail to live up to the lofty expectations. Gerald is athletic and seems to know football, which are two of the most important ingredients a player needs.


Richmond, Va.: Josh, how would rate the job Coach Rod has done at Michigan? I think it's a very impressive group he landed considering he's been at the program not even two months.

Josh Barr: Well, Michigan's recruiting class, right or wrong, will be defined by whether Terrelle Pryor enrolls. Wherever he goes, Pryor will have ridiculous expectations to meet. As for the job Rodriguez has done so far, my head is still spinning at all the sniping going on between him and the folks at West Virginia. It's one of the most fascinating things to play out in recent college sports. Will it go to court? I wonder, because I doubt either side wants its dirty laundry aired publicly. But if it does, be sure to tune in. Can CourtTV get the broadcast rights?


Baltimore: We all know that Jim Grobe of Wake Forest can coach, but can he recruit? Is this rising ACC program becoming a recruiting force in the South?

Josh Barr: Recruiting at Wake Forest is always going to be difficult. Admission standards are a bit more stringent than other schools, plus it's one of the smallest schools with a I-A football team. There are many instances when a coach does better work with players who aren't regarded as highly -- I can think of a coach in a different sport locally who seems to be doing that right now and surprising a few folks, myself included.


Hokie; Class of 72: Your thoughts of Beamer's incoming group?

Josh Barr: Good god, there's an awful lot of them. 31 LOIs. Virginia Tech always seems to do a good job taking some kids without lofty rankings and then winning with them. Seems like another one of those classes to me.


Oakton, Va.: Hi Josh,

It seems that Steve Spurrier had a big letdown from a top ten recruiting class he had last year. As far as recruiting for South Carolina -- has he lost his magic and can he ever turn the Gamecock program around or is the SEC just too tough?

Josh Barr: Here's what my buddy Joe Person had today in The (Columbia) State:


With Spurrier acknowledging this year was a bit of a downer after last year's highly-rated class. That said, the SEC is incredibly tough and only getting tougher. Bobby Petrino will make it a bit more interesting, Houston Nutt stays around and now Mississippi State is winning too. And that says nothing about LSU, Florida and Nick Saban at Alabama.


College Park, Md.: Why do people rank football recruiting classes? It's so difficult to determine the success of football players out of high school because they frequently change positions, end up is systems they can't play in, or just flame out or excel under the rigors of college. There's something to be said to having the whatever-number recruiting class, but it's more subjective than the AP Poll, and frequently overlooks the coaches that specifically target players to fill team needs and systems.

Josh Barr: Completely agreed. Would be nice if someone took the time to rank these classes four years down the road, when an accurate measure can be made.


Signing day media hoopla: is a sure sign of the impending apocalypse. Rebut this or repent...

Josh Barr: Agreed.


Arlington, Va.: Why is it that every year the traditional powers win the recruiting years and every year the traditional power lose more and more games to the Boise and Appalachian States of the world? Are these recruiting ratings a sham? Do the 5-star recruits just get swelled heads as soon as they arrive at Bigtime U?

Josh Barr: Or maybe the folks who assign the star rankings assume that if a player is going to Big State U. that he must be good? Or maybe when Big State U. lands a recruit, its coaches insist to the rankers that their players get more stars or else? Think these things don't happen? Think again.


Jackson, Miss.: What do you think contributes to Nick Saban's success as a recruiter? The national sports media savages him but kids and parents like him. Thanks. Roll Tide!

Josh Barr: Must do a heck of a job on the home visits. Doesn't seem to make friends in the media or the places he leaves, but for rivals.com and scout.com to both rank Alabama No. 1 this year in recruiting, Saban must have done well.


Arlington, VA: Do these ratings of how many star prospects they take on or do they analyze perceived needs as well?

For example, I am glad that most ratings have my alma mater Notre Dame up there as having one of the better years. But a lot of that seems to hinge on the fact that we hooked some 5-star quarterback, one year after we hooked last years consensus best quarterback. Looking over our list I only noticed one defensive back. So what good is this great recruiting year if USC receivers are still going to run past our secondary like they're standing still?

Josh Barr: Nope. The rankings are just to rate a player. Not sure if when ranking an entire class, the evaluators take into account a team's specific needs. If not, perhaps they should. That said, go rank the recruiting classes a few years into their college careers and that's when you'll get an accurate assessment.


Glen Burnie, Md.: It seems as though Coach Vanderlinden was a much better recruiter than Coach Friedgen at Maryland. Friedgen's most successful seasons (2001-2003) came with using recruits from Vanderlindens era. Would you agree with this statement?

Josh Barr: Tough to say. No question, though, that Friedgen was successful with Vanderlinden's players and perhaps Vanderlinden was right when he said he thought Maryland was in position to turn things around and the talent was there when he was fired.

That said, would it have happened for the Terrapins without the coaching change? Probably not. And most likely not to the same degree.

I have another theory. Look at the years in which Maryland has won big under Friedgen and the Terps have always had an experienced quarterback. Shaun Hill, Scott McBrien, Sam Hollenbach -- all had some college experience before winning behind center at Maryland.


Columbia, Md.: Hi Josh. How is recruiting going in PG County? On a serious note, what impact will all the coaching changes have on recruiting and do you think the drama of last season will cast a dark cloud over Prince George's County?

Josh Barr: The coaching changes and forfeits won't change recruiting much in Prince George's. As long as the coaches make the effort to get their kids out and noticed, colleges still will find them. Look at the number of kids from this season who have signed LOIs. Whoever steps in at Eleanor Roosevelt will need to continue the hard work Rick Houchens put into this area, but I think the person (who I should have in tomororw's paper) knows what to do.


Josh Barr: Thanks for stopping by everyone. Maybe we'll do it again in the spring when colleges hit the junior recruiting circuit.



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