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Old 02-09-2015, 01:01 PM   #1
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Default Final thoughts on 2015 and 2016 look ahead

It has taken me a while to get all of my thoughts together about the 2015 recruiting cycle. I tried to hold off on getting overly worked up over the rash of decommitments and the fall out of Coach Spurrier's comments. At first, I was like everyone else in denial, panic mode aka the sky is falling. Then it transitioned acceptance and the 'maybe there is a chance to salvage something solid'. Which transitioned to optimism on NSD with the thoughts of 'hey, this is actually a pretty good class'.

On the offensive side of the ball I like what the staff did at the skill positions. Make no mistake, I think Lorenzo Nunez is a project at QB. He has a high ceiling as a passer though that maybe you couldn't say about a Tanner McEvoy or Brendan Nosovitch. He was a fringe Elite 11 camp selection that fell just short at the end, he has shown in his tapes that he is a dynamic runner, and he comes from a good family/background. Do I expect him to be the starter at USC one day? Its hard to say. We have some unknowns already on campus with Connor Mitch and Michael Scarnecchia. We also have one of the best QBs in the country lined up for 2016. But anything can happen. Zo could earn his way on the field this year with his legs and if he develops under fire, maybe he blossoms into a SEC caliber QB. But we all should keep in the back of our head that Coach Spurrier and his staff have a history of taking high school QBs and turning them into excellent receivers. Overall, I think he was a solid pickup that can help us at other positions if QB doesn't work out. Again, unlike McEvoy and Nosovitch coming out of high school, he is a highly regarded dual threat QB by the majority of recruiting services.

My opinions of the running back had to be tempered a bit because at the beginning of the cycle our expectations were shooting for the stars. Finishing with Denson and Turner at one time was kind of meh given the other guys we were perceived to be in it with but in the end, I think we got the right guys for us. If you think about it, Denson is really Everette Sands 1st prospect. We will find out if the attitude towards him is justified or not. He has been working with Davis, Wilds, Carson, and Williams since he got here. Personally, I don't really know what to think of Denson. He has a good build and good speed. Seems to fit the mold of the backs we have been successful with in the past. But what kept him from 4 star status? What's the knock on him? To be honest, I'm more excited about the potential of Turner. While most of his offers were likely as a defensive back, it doesn't take very long to look at his tape and see the speed. I think he has more of a chance to make an impact earlier than Denson through special teams and maybe as the change of pace for Williams next year. I believe that I read that in his first game back this year after injury he took 2 of his first 4 touches for TD. He is a potential gamebreaker.

Love, love, love, LOVE what the staff did at Wide Receiver. This group of 4 (possibly 5 if Johnson converts to WR) is a nice blend of everything. The headliners are Jalen Christian and DJ Neal. I'd compare Neal to a Shaq Roland talent wise. Good build, athletic, good speed, and excellent hands. IMO, he is the ideal X or B receiver. Then there is Christian with the shake and burst. I can not wait to see this guy with the ball in his hands. Personally, I don't think we are talking about him enough. I think he is going to be big time. He is going to need to add some muscle but I think the potential is through the roof. I think Jerad Washington is a good prospect to develop and get on the field as a RS Soph. I don't think he is an immediate impact guy but he is someone that can provide depth in the future. Everyone needs players like that. He has quick feet and is really good at changing direction. I think Christian Owens is destined to be a Tight End down the road. I know the staff likes his height and pass catching ability but I just question whether he can separate and get behind defenses. I think he would be a much better weapon filling in for Jerell Adams next year but we will see. Its going to be nice having a big body on the perimeter again that we can lob it up to.

I'm going to pair the Tight Ends and the Offensive Line together because the roles are going to be similar. I don't see Connor Redmond or Kyle Markway catching a bunch of passes at USC. Maybe Markway more so than Redmond. I think our staff really liked having that tenacious blocker with Cody Gibson last year and that I think its going to be a position we recruit for going forward. I think Markway fits the build perfectly. I'm curious about what Redmond brings to the table though. From what I have gathered he has good, soft hands and he is a tough player. Might be one of those guys that blossoms as a Soph or Junior. Obviously on the OL, Zack Bailey and Christian Pellage were massive gets. Pellage is probably a lock to play this season and Bailey will get into the mix at Guard after a redshirt year. With the news of Paris Palmer having a serious non-publicized knee injury coming out last week, perhaps he wasn't as big of a loss as once thought. And who can honestly blame Austin Clark staying instate especially if there was family issues involved. I can't really get mad about that. Jozy Milton wasn't that big of a loss, IMO. I'm not quite sure if he was Center material anyway. I think he was more of a project that Elliott wanted to develop. I think given the situation, finished with Camper and Derouen was a solid recovery. Camper seems to be a guy that can help us 2 years from now. Derouen is going to be a good rotational player / spot starter for us. I think Clark was the biggest loss of our recruiting cycle but we did a pretty good job recovering all things considered.

I don't really know what else to say about the defensive line class other than its exactly what the doctor ordered. I, like everyone else, would've loved to have Arden Key but would you classify him as a necessity or a luxury. I'm leaning towards the latter because we already had a very good group top to bottom. Headliner is obviously Qua Lewis. He is a potential 1 and done that is going to solve a bunch of our problems. Dante Sawyer is another probably starter on the strong side. Dexter Wideman is going to be a probable starter a Defensive Tackle down the road. Quandeski Whitlow is the high upside guy. Devante Covington is the quality depth / special teams guy. Ulric Jones is another depth guy that could be a situational pass rusher or end up as a backup on the offensive line at tackle. But, IMO, the gem of this class is Shamiek Blackshear. If you asked me who I would take between a healthy Blackshear and Arden Key, its Blackshear all day, every day. If he is healthy and his mind is right, this guy is going to be an absolute terror and would reduce the pain if Lewis goes pro after this year. I'm really high on this guy and I hope that he lives up to his former 5 star billing. Overall, this was exactly what the doctor ordered for our defensive line ailments. Immediate impacts, quality depth, and upside!

Linebacker went under the radar this class and maybe with good reason. The guy the group is built around is Sherrod Pittman. I think he is the guy that is likely to grow into a starter sooner than later. He has it all. But on the flip side, I think Jalen Henry, Ernest Hawkins, and Daniel Fennell are primarily depth and special teams guys. Fennell could blossom into a SPUR if we stay with the 4-2-5. I'm just not sure if any of those guys are going to be starters long term? The staff seems pretty high on Hawkins though but appears like its mostly for special teams next year. Henry had excellent sophomore film. I, admittedly, haven't seen his senior film (if it is even available). He could surprise. Even if things played out like I described, getting Pittman makes up for it all. I think you can pencil him in as a starter by his sophomore season. However, I think Linebacker is definitely a position of need in 2016 especially with Hoke in charge.

Before I get started on defensive backs, I'll go ahead and say, losing Mark Fields sucks. Top 10 player at his position, great blood lines. It sucks. There is no other way to phrase it but remember this about defensive back recruiting, they are a dime a dozen every year. You can get them every year as they are in abundance. It isn't as hard of a position to evaluate as say offensive line or quarterback. We will rebound especially with a secondary guy in charge of the defense now. Now, to the guys we actually signed. Octavis Johnson is the star of the group. He is a guy that is going to be a potential starter at Corner OR he can go play wide receiver. Either way, he is a guy that is going to find the field in some way. Can't really ask for more than that. Explosive, explosive, explosive. Rashad Fenton was about as good of a late add as we are going to get. Nice offer sheet, comes from a DB rich area, brings some Florida-swag and pure cover skills. Won't have to worry about him being too slow or not flexible enough to cover wide receivers. We needed some hard hitters at Safety and we got them. Antoine Wilder and Darrin Smalls are going to bring the wood. Both probably make contributions to special teams early in their careers. Time will tell if they become starters but at least they are going to provide good depth and I imagine some bone crushing hits. I'm a little more optimistic with Smalls right now given his versatility to contribute at Safety or Corner if things get murky. Overall, not bad .. probably looks better on paper with Fields in the fold but it just wasn't meant to be.

EDIT: So, I completely forgot JUCO transfer Toure Boyd. I think he is going to have a shot at a starting spot or to be a rotational player given our need for help at Safety. He has good range, good ball skills. It'll be nice having a somewhat experienced player back there too. Quite frankly, we need him to be good because looking at the current competition he has, I don't see how he doesn't see the field in some capacity right away. Definitely should get a look on Special Teams at the very least. It was pretty cool that he moved up to a 4 star in the 247 final rankings.

Like the Joseph Charlton signing. We need an Elliott Fry impact at Punter and he seems like the perfect fit there. Hopefully he comes in and wins the job early.


2016 look ahead:

Its still early but according to pay sites, we are currently looking at a class of 20. I imagine we will get to 25 somehow. I think getting McIlwain early is HUGE and his impact will be made when he starts going to combines and coming to big recruiting functions at USC to interact with other recruits. He is going to be the glue guy for this class and it'll be up to him to help the staff combat the negative recruiting that'll be rampant with our major targets. Same can be said about Kyle Davis. Things seems pretty calm right now but I imagine we are going to have to fight off Georgia and Auburn eventually. I really like the things I'm hearing about JuJu Morris from Alabama. It appears like Botkin's early eval is paying dividends. Queston is, how long is Morris going to remain a secret?

In the 2016 class, there needs to be a big emphasis on offensive tackles, wide receivers, linebackers, and defensive back. We have got to find at least 3 four star caliber offensive tackles IMO and preferably guys that have the feet and agility to protect the QB's blind side. Receiving corp looks like its going to be solid with Davis and possibly Bryan Edwards and Brad Hawkins. I'll take that trio in a heartbeat and I'm sure McIlwain would too. Need to add some size to our linebacker corp and we probably needs to add 2 corners and 2 safeties to the defensive backs.

Overall my biggest concern with the 2016 class is going to be the fall out of Spurrier's comments and what happens if the team struggles again. I think getting back on track in the win column would help do damage control but it could be disastrous if things go bad. I think finishing with a Top 15 class would be a success. Something that JC Shurburtt posted on his site has stuck with me and that is he believes that a lot of USC's top targets won't even give us the light of day because of what Spurrier said. He alluded that perhaps expectations should be a Mizzou or Arkansas type class this year. I know that won't sit well with many fans but I can't rule out that scenario happening. USC is going to have to find the right kids to come in here if they have to revert to plan B options early. USC's coaches, commitments, administration, and fans are really going to have to battle hard this cycle.
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Last edited by CoverTwo; 02-09-2015 at 02:50 PM..
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Old 02-09-2015, 02:20 PM   #2
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Default Re: Final thoughts on 2015 and 2016 look ahead

Very nice write up, C2. What do you think of Toure Boyd? I didn't see you mention anything about him.
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Old 02-09-2015, 02:32 PM   #3
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Default Re: Final thoughts on 2015 and 2016 look ahead

Great analysis and insight as always.

Also wondering if Boyd can step in next year.
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Old 02-09-2015, 02:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: Final thoughts on 2015 and 2016 look ahead

Fixed .. I don't know how I missed him. I didn't even have him in the commitment thread. Sorry.
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Old 02-09-2015, 03:16 PM   #5
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Default Re: Final thoughts on 2015 and 2016 look ahead

Great write-up, C2. Thanks for your hard work, and I think you are spot-on with the analysis.

As far as 2016, all we need to follow is the words of a guy that brought in the strongest recruiting class - ever - at the Citadel. I am referring, of course, to Al Davis, who said "Just win, baby". I think the losses last year had more to do with the decommits than Spurrier's 2 - 3 year comment.
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Old 02-09-2015, 07:29 PM   #6
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Default Re: Final thoughts on 2015 and 2016 look ahead

I think he can clean up the comment with consistent statements over the course of the cycle. I swear we've been through this before. You know good and well a guy like Hoke with other options and by the way who was left out when HBC left UF for the Skins job. Hopefully, he can share that with any who are concerned.

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Old 02-09-2015, 07:33 PM   #7
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Default Re: Final thoughts on 2015 and 2016 look ahead

Thanks for the great read C2PO. I believe Denson played a lot of LB from what it sounds like. Maybe he just didn't get evaled enough as a RB? Very solid back nonetheless.


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Old 02-09-2015, 07:50 PM   #8
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Default Re: Final thoughts on 2015 and 2016 look ahead

Good read
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Old 02-09-2015, 07:58 PM   #9
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Default Re: Final thoughts on 2015 and 2016 look ahead

With the additions of Hoke and Hoke being the primary play caller, I hope Whammy is more active on the recruiting trail! He has great relationships in the Atlanta area. While he was involved in recruiting as a DC, maybe he can get aggressive again.
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Old 02-09-2015, 08:16 PM   #10
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Default Re: Final thoughts on 2015 and 2016 look ahead

C2, I appreciate your analysis of this class and agree with pretty much all of it. I believe we ultimately land Kinlaw and Simpson. Do you think we can convince Kinlaw to play OT? If so, do you think we'd be set at tackle or would we still pursue a 3rd guy? I' m of the opinion that Ulric Jones would be a perfect tackle prospect after a redshirt year. I think we have a great shot at landing Upshir and I saw a CB pick in our favor for Giberti. This class hinges on having a good season I think moreso than ever. One bad season is an outlier but two straight could be seen as a trend.
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Old 02-09-2015, 10:12 PM   #11
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Default Re: Final thoughts on 2015 and 2016 look ahead

I believe 2015 addressed MOST of our needs with talent but not much more after that.

I do however, believe that 2016 COULD be the best class of the Spurrier era.
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Old 02-09-2015, 10:52 PM   #12
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Default Re: Final thoughts on 2015 and 2016 look ahead

If we have a solid season, Spurrier's 2-3 year comment will be long forgotten. Barring another poor season, I can't envision another scenario where that one single comment is still a talking a point in a year.
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Old 02-09-2015, 10:55 PM   #13
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Default Re: Final thoughts on 2015 and 2016 look ahead

Quote:
Originally Posted by lilhornet View Post
I believe 2015 addressed MOST of our needs with talent but not much more after that.

I do however, believe that 2016 COULD be the best class of the Spurrier era.
If we land a stud RB it has a chance to be the best skill position class in the Spurrier era. So far we have a 4 star QB and 4 star WR and are projected to land 2 more 4 star WRs and a 4 star TE as of now so if you add a legit RB that is just deadly. Really interested to see how we address LB, OT, and DT though because we need to do well at all 3 positions (possibly a JUCO or two at OT) for this to be a truly home run class.
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Old 02-09-2015, 10:59 PM   #14
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Default Re: Final thoughts on 2015 and 2016 look ahead

I also think our big needs are going to be RB's, TE, OT, DT, and "Spur"
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Old 02-09-2015, 11:18 PM   #15
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Default Re: Final thoughts on 2015 and 2016 look ahead

Quote:
Originally Posted by CoverTwo View Post
Fixed .. I don't know how I missed him. I didn't even have him in the commitment thread. Sorry.
the only one you missed was Helms....even if he isn't granted the medical hardship, I think he will be right there competing for a starting spot in 2 years.

I'm a little higher than you on Denson. Those 3 stars were about him as a junior 5'10" LB......and even if he doesn't make it as a RB, he's a faster version of Shaq Wilson. I love Turner as you do, but Denson could be the 235 lb RB we've been missing for awhile.

This was a great write up. I'm sure it was hard trying to put all the pieces together, but you did it very well.
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Old 02-09-2015, 11:55 PM   #16
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Default Re: Final thoughts on 2015 and 2016 look ahead

Our defense will be better this year because we will have some true defensive ends and our young secondary will be a year more experienced. Then everyone will praise the Hoke hire, but Ward was going to do better with better D-Ends anyway. He did coach our defense that was pretty good last year.
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Old 02-10-2015, 01:08 AM   #17
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Default Re: Final thoughts on 2015 and 2016 look ahead

Good review, but I think Washington will show up sooner than OP mentioned.
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Old 02-10-2015, 01:30 AM   #18
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Default Re: Final thoughts on 2015 and 2016 look ahead

Man I hope some people are right about Denson, I know plenty of people have said he's just as good as other guys that were higher rated than him, but he didn't exactly set the world on fire his senior year. I get that his hs changed offenses, but RB is a position based solely athleticism, kid has some legit physical attributes, but I dunno seems like a Brian Maddox type back to me. I think at worst he can be a change of pace back, but considering scarlett flipped while everyone on this board was 100% certain he wouldn't, I feel like we still should have pursued him after his commitment, after Williams and Wilds there isn't much depth at RB. I would have been fine w/ offering the kid from dutch fork that louisville dropped as well, especially considering Turner may play at DB, is Jabrai Smith set in stone at CB, I thought the kid did well in the little action he got 2yrs ago.
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Old 02-10-2015, 04:27 PM   #19
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Default Re: Final thoughts on 2015 and 2016 look ahead

I love the way our 2016 QB, WR and TE (assuming we can land one of Nauta / Upshur) recruiting is shaping up so far, but I'm once again concerned about our RB recruiting. After the success of Lattimore and Mike Davis, you'd think we could garner more attention from some of the top RB prospects around the southeast. That's not meant to knock the guys that we're getting, but I don't understand why we're limited to searching for diamonds in the rough. I guess I'm just saying that I love the way the skill-position recruiting is looking but I'm still skeptical on the RB situation.

OL recruiting could be solid again this year with Luke Elder and John Simpson looking like good early targets we're in good shape for. Parker Boudreaux would be another.

I'm not sure yet on our DL recruiting at this stage. Kinlaw is so raw that it's hard to know how good he could be. Ron Johnson's the highest rated DE recruit we're after, but we've never had much success getting anything other than skill players out of the NJ / PA area. Regardless, I'm more concerned about us landing some very good DT's in this class. I'm worried about our depth there. We took care of some immediate needs at DE with this class. Shore up the interior now. It's hard to tell how in the game we are for Nyles Pinckney and Antwuan Jackson, and those are the two names I've heard thrown about most seriously so far. There are some other really, really good ones in NC and GA that we can go after harder, though. If I'm Jon Hoke, those guys are the first priority on my list of recruiting things to do.

I can't say I really have an opinion on LB or DB recruiting at this stage for 2016. Too many names out there at those positions.
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Old 02-10-2015, 06:45 PM   #20
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Default Re: Final thoughts on 2015 and 2016 look ahead

Great write up C2, thank you! I hope what the Dr ordered cures what ails us in a hurry!
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