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Prep Sports Report

Bob Putnam, Rodney Page, Kelly Parsons

Nation's top eighth graders, Godby fined & what Milwaukee thinks of John Henson

One reason for the recent (triumphant!) launch of this blog is to share links from across the Internets that you might find interesting. I’ll try to make this a regular Friday feature.

This week’s link dump:

* MaxPreps has released its list of the top 50 prospects for the class of 2016. Yes, 2016. As in kids who were eighth graders last season. “Welcome to the new era in college football recruiting,” Stephen Spiewak writes, “where colleges juggle securing and maintaining commitments from senior recruits with getting a jump start on middle school players who have yet to play a snap of high school football.”

Tampa Bay was shut out of the list, which you can see here.

* The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Michael Hunt seems to like the Bucks drafting Sickles’ John Henson: “The 21-year-old Henson just might be an inside presence for a team with not much inside presence to speak of for years to come.”

* This is a little old, but if you missed it (as I did), the FHSAA fined Tallahassee Godby $4,200 for using ineligible players. The penalties could include 14 forfeits and three years of probation, the Tallahasee Democrat reports.

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Rivals survey: Will Muschamp, Nick Saban among most intimidating coaches

Rivals used its recent five-star challenge showcase to survey 80 star recruits about a variety of issues. Good idea, with and interesting results.

Recruits said Alabama's Nick Saban was the most intimidating college coach to talk with. USC's Lane Kiffin was second. No. 3? Florida's Will Muschamp, which kind of surprises me. I would have thought Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy would have made the list, but that's just me.

Rivals' survey suggests that recruits like Auburn's Gene Chizik but are mixed on Kiffin. Check out Rivals' full results here.

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Is this a sleepover or a recruiting violation?

That's the $2,500 question from one of the more interesting stories I've covered here.

The FHSAA reprimanded Hernando and fined the Leopards $2,500 for what it deemed a recruiting violation. The school's principal let a student-athlete spend the night at his house, according to the FHSAA. Sometimes that happened on school nights for the player, whose family lives in Pasco  County but was granted an exemption to transfer to Hernando County.

But, according to Hernando assistant principal Brent Gaustad, there's more to it than that. Gaustad said the player was close friends with the principal's son. Other kids slept over, too, so the benefit was available to non-athletes. It's unclear whether other sleepover benefits included access to Call of Duty, popcorn and fluffy objects to wield during 2 a.m. pillow fights.

Read the full story here.

What do you think? Is this a benign case of friends staying over at each others' houses - as I did all the time growing up? Or is this a recruiting violation that should be punished? 


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The real recruiting battleground: Middle schools

In the wake of the Armwood scandal and new state legislation coming on recruiting rules, here's some context on high school recruiting around Washington, D.C., from The New York Times. The NYT writes: 

Coaches sat scattered across the bleachers at a basketball tournament here this month, interested observers determined to find the next big star.

With their polo shirts emblazoned with team logos, they could have passed for college recruiters out to woo top players. But these were coaches from some of the elite private high schools in Washington, and the players they were watching were in middle school.

The Times' story is worth a read. It details the depth of high school coaches' recruiting, including evaluating middle schoolers, calling kids and parents non-stop and trekking to travel tournaments to watch the top middle school prospects play.

But not surprising, at least to me.

At my previous job in Oklahoma, there were plenty of rumors and urban legends of one school poaching a future NFL player from another, or one school offering a top prospect's mother a job in the school district.  …

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'I remember (Urban Meyer) ripping his shirt off'

Before he was the head coach for the Florida Gators and Ohio State Buckeyes, Urban Meyer was a high school coach. MaxPreps profiles his one-year tenure at St. Xavier in Cincinnati.

One anecdote about the 21-year-old Meyer as a DB coach is making the rounds on Twitter this morning. MaxPreps' Mitch Stephens reports:

The first week of practice in a conditioning and pursuit drill, the ball was thrown to a receiver, who would sprint down the field. Defensive backs were supposed to take an angle and try to tag the receiver.

Meyer made sure the DBs were challenged. 

"I remember him ripping his shirt off and running as an offensive player," (co-captain Steve) Specht said. "He dared them to try to catch him.

"Hey, when you're 21 and in shape you can do that crap. When you're 45 like we are now, no way."

You can read the full story here.

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History matters in Indiana class system

Indiana is adopting a policy I've seen discussed elsewhere - one that would factor recent success into whether a state moves up a classification.

Under a measure approved this week, schools would be awarded points for success. Its equivalent of a district title would be worth one point. A regional title would be worth two, and so on, the Indianapolis Star reports. If a program gets six points in two years, it jumps up a class.

Ohio and Oklahoma have also debated using recent historical success as one metric in whether a school moves up a class and gets pitted against tougher competition (in theory).

I'm not sure how well that system would work here. I think Armwood would do just fine in Class 7A, but I think it could mean a tougher road to state for some smaller programs.

What do you think?



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Your thoughts on Armwood's punishment?

So the FHSAA made its ruling against Armwood yesterday - and did just about what everyone expected. The Hawks were fined more than $12,000 and must forfeit all of their games from the last two seasons, including the 2011 Class 6A state title.

Now that the punishments are out and the saga is (seemingly) over, what do you think? 

Were the penalties too harsh? Not harsh enough? Just right? Are they enough to deter other schools (and parents) from doing similar things in the future?

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Gator Chomp gets Florida commit booted from Florida State Seminoles camp

Don't tell Florida State's coaches that camps aren't real football.

FSU kicked Tallahassee Lincoln LB James Hearns out of its camp over the weekend, according to Hearns' transgression? Doing the Gator chomp.

"I just got ejected for throwing up the gator chomp at Fsu camp," Hearns Tweeted.

MaxPreps notes that this sort of thing has happened before, when Miami commit Tavadis Glenn was booted from a UF event after putting up The U hand signal.


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Would you send your kid to a football prep school?

That's a question that popped into my head after today's announcement that IMG Academy in Bradenton will field a high school football team in the 2013-14 school year.

The football training will obviously be top-notch, even if it's still unclear who IMG will play during the season. The off-field stuff will be different from the traditional high school experience. Not sure what kind of a prom IMG will throw, for instance. Seems like a trade-off, to me.

So, parents and coaches, would you want one of your kids to go to school at a football prep school? And, players, which experience would you prefer?


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Land O'Lakes stadium could bear Benedetto's name; who's next?

Pasco County Schools has recommended naming Land O'Lakes' football stadium after longtime coach John Benedetto. That proposal could become official at Tuesday's school board meeting.

That got me wondering: What other coaches deserve their gyms, stadiums, fields or tracks renamed in their honor? What former coaches are most worthy? What current coaches are on track for that honor after their retirement?

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Urban Meyer talks NCAA recruiting

Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer isn't a fan of at least one of the NCAA's recruiting rules.

The former Gators coach said today that he doesn't like high school prospects having to pay their own way for unofficial visits. Each recruit gets five official visits, which are paid by the colleges. Travel and meals for unofficial visits are on families' dimes, which Meyer doesn't like.

"It is one of the problems I have now with collegiate athletics. It's almost anti-student-athlete where they have to come to us for camp," Meyer said, according to "How many kids can afford to fly or drive that far?

"This is so unusual, I can't believe we're allowed to do this."

I agree with Meyer. Plenty of families can't afford recruiting trips across the country, and the number of unofficial visits have grown ridiculous for young prospects. Official visits often come after a player has already committed to that school. If colleges had to pay for unofficial visits, I doubt coaches would promote them so much. That might give recruits time to think about where they really want to play and force them to make their visits count.

You can read the rest of ESPN's story here.

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Plant + Plant City equals 12th best high school

Bleacher Report has put together a list of the top 40 high schools in america for colleges to recruit from, and at No. 12?


And, uh, Plant City.

Bleacher Report says: "Plant is a four-time state champion since 2006 and the Panthers' program in Tampa is a Sunshine State powerhouse. This is where players like Mike Williams, Wade Boggs, Aaron Murray and Robert Marve have played. Philip Ely, Orson Charles, Bennie Coney, James Wilder Jr., Jordan Prestwood and Antonio Crawford are also former Panthers."

We're not sure what Wade Boggs has to do with great football, and we're pretty sure Jordan Prestwood (now at FSU) and Bennie Coney (Cincinnati) actually played football in Plant City, which is often confused for Plant because, well, it has the word Plant in it.

Take Prestwood and Coney off the list of Panther alum, and does Plant still make the list? Not sure. 

Armwood, by the way, did not make the list, though former Gibbs coach Yusuf Shakir's Tallahassee Lincoln squad did at No. 4.


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