Newberg's Mailbag - No. 1

Jalen Merrick

Are all of these reported offers real offers? What rule changes could curb this mess? What are Florida State's chances with Abdul Bello? Is Jalen Merrick a Florida lean? How good is Miami's latest offensive line commitment? Who are the Bulls targeting at quarterback? All of this and more in this mailbag.

I see a lot of "USF just offered so-and-so" messages on Twitter - far more players than they could possibly sign. Which got me wondering: how many players does the average school offer in one recruiting season? From what I've seen, it's got to be at least a couple hundred. And if that's the case, what does an offer from a school to a player really mean at this stage of the game?
Gary - Omaha, Nebraska

Great question Gary. It obviously varies from school to school. But quite simply many of the offers that are reported are quite ridiculous. For the most part, it's all a game. The college coaches do a great job of giving the illusion that they have indeed offered kids when in reality they really don't. Many of these so-called offers don't turn into commitments because they are not committable offers. In other words, a school can verbally offer a player but they won't take his commitment or they will slow play the recruit.

I'm telling you, with many of these offers it's all a game. Coaches give the verbal offer illusion to stay in the game with certain players. Coaches are unsure as to whether they really want to offer them or perhaps they just need more time to evaluate that player. They also want the recruit to feel he has an offer when in reality they prefer a handful of other players.

They need to change the rules. Right now, schools have to wait until August 1st going into the recruit's senior season to offer a prospect in writing. Completely take that off the table and allow coaches to offer in writing at any point during a recruit's high school career. This will slow down all the meaningless verbal offers, especially to the younger prospects. If you are a coach now, you just can't hand out verbal offers like candy. If you do, a recruit will want to see the proof in the pudding – a written offer.

What do you think of Florida State's chances are with offensive tackle Abdul Bello?
Pete - Clearwater, Fla.

When it comes to recruiting, you have to throw everything you know out the window if you are trying to predict the outcome of what Abdul Bello will ultimately do.

For those that don't know this offensive tackle recruit from Monteverde (Fla.) Academy outside of Orlando,he is a transfer student from Nigeria. He played a total of six games last fall and a spring game two weeks ago. That's it. That's a total of 28 quarters. Yet, despite his inexperience, Bello has scholarship offers from FSU, Florida, Miami, Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Tennessee, USC, Auburn and a ton of others. It really is an amazing story considering how far he needs to go as a player. He knows very little.

But his upside is off the charts. He's 6-foot-5, 300-pounds. Bello is long, lean and has great feet. He can bend and move. He plays with great balance and a stunning punch. Bello just doesn't know what he's doing yet.

Like his knowledge of the game, he knows just as little about the colleges currently recruiting him. When he gets an offer from a school his coach pulls out a map to show Bello exactly where the school is.

My point is that how could we possibly handicap where Bello will go when he has no idea about the schools, the coaches, their traditions, etc.?

But Bello does know what he saw last season, which I would imagine bodes well for FSU considering they were the talk of college football in winning their third national title. The Seminoles are all over Bello and he's their top offensive tackle on their board. He has already been to Tallahassee for one visit and it looks like he will be back this month for a camp. FSU offensive line coach Rick Trickett was at his spring game. Keep in mind with what Trickett did in one season with Menelik Watson. I guarantee you that will be a huge selling point with FSU to Bello, as Watson, like Bello, was relatively new to the game back then.

But hey, what do I know? This is Bello we are talking about. He has no ties to any team or any coach. His recruitment and circumstance is a rarity in this business. It's early and I think it will come down to his official visits unless he does get an opportunity to visit a bunch of schools this summer. He will camp with the Gators as well and Bello hopes to get to Auburn, Alabama, LSU, Georgia and Tennessee before school and practice begin in August.

Below are some video highlights of Bello I shot on May 22 as they took on Orlando The First Academy.

What are the major needs for Florida's 2015 recruiting class? How many do you think we will sign? Hypothetically, if we have a 10 win or better season but our 2015 recruiting class bombs out (not in the top 50 just for an example) will that hurt Will Muschamp's tenure as our coach?
Bill

Florida's major needs for their 2015 class will be the front seven across the board and playmakers on offense. There is always attrition and I believe they will end up signing somewhere in the 23-25 range.

The Gators are off to be a pretty good start with this class. They have eight commitments, including some very good wide receivers like Tristan Payton (Jacksonville First Coast), Jalen Julius (Winter Garden West Orange), and Derrick Dillon (Franklinton, La./Pine). Florida has two defensive line commitments in Andre Ivie (Dade City Pasco) and Camrin Knight (Tallahassee Lincoln).

They have their work cut out for them in terms of recruiting and everything will hinge on the season they have on the field this fall. If the Gators do well, they will recruit well. If they play poorly like last season than all bets are off.

Now I am not sure they will ever fall out of the top 50 in recruiting but another sub-par season and this staff is in big trouble. Everyone knows that.

What's the latest on the big offensive lineman Jalen Merrick? Does Florida lead?
Donnell

Jalen Merrick is an outstanding offensive line prospect from New Smyrna Beach (Fla.) High School. He's sitting on close to three dozen scholarship offers at this time. Merrick plans on visiting Florida this Saturday, which happens to be a big camp session for the Gators. He says he's currently open and will talk favorites and trim his school list after the summer. Merrick also told me that he would like to visit at least nine other schools over the next few weeks like Ohio State, FSU, Miami, South Carolina Alabama, Georgia and LSU. All have offered the 6-foot-4, 310-pound offensive guard.

Who's this latest offensive lineman my Hurricanes picked up from Venice, Fla.? What can you tell me about him? He doesn't seem like a big time kid. Should I be worried?
Mad Dog - Hollywood, Fla.

No worries here Mad Dog as I think this is a nice find by the University of Miami. His name is Tyler Gauthier. Full disclosure here – I have only seen him on film and I really liked what I saw. He's 6-foot-5, 310-pounds and strong as an ox. He already bench presses 395-pounds and power cleans 350, per his high school coach. Power clean is more of a football lift and anything over 300-pounds for a high school player is outstanding. Remember, this kid still has a year left.

Gauthier gets off the ball extremely well, showing a good burst off the line. Gauthier plays with leverage. What I mean with that is that he fires off the ball and shows good bend and flexibility in his hips. He comes out and up into defenders pads with a nice pop. This allows Gauthier to drive lineman off the ball. He plays low. Gauthier can get to the second level. He also shows agility to adjust his body and body angle to seal the edge. I really like the way this kid can run block.

I would have loved to have seen more of Gauthier is pass pro. But he's athletic enough to mirror defensive ends and outside linebackers in what I have seen. He shows good lateral ability to keep pass rushers at bay or to simply steer them away from the quarterback.

Gauthier could become a swing guy at both tackle spots as well as a guard.

Who do see as the most likely quarterback(s) that USF lands? As a follow-up, is that most likely guy one of the staff's top choices or will it be a Plan B guy?
Dave Weber

Well, I am sure that South Florida would love to land Deondre Francois (Bradenton IMG Academy). He's the state's top quarterback prospect but I don't see the Bulls getting this one. I am also pretty sure they would love to land Dwayne Lawson. He's a local signal caller from Tampa Hillsborough but he just committed to Miami. For the Bulls, they can't be too choosey. It will be tough for them to beat the big boys on the elite quarterbacks.

But don't hang your head. I am sure there are plenty of teams that are kicking themselves at this time. Just think what happened two years ago when all the big boys mis-evaluated and passed on two south Florida guys like Mike White (USF) and John O'Korn (Houston).

It's not always about the stars next to that recruits name. As a staff, you have to find the guys that are right for what you do and trust your evaluations.

Having said that, South Florida is showing a great liking to Austin King from Alpharetta (Ga.). They are currently battling UCF and West Virginia for his services, as they have all offered. Another out of state kid to keep an eye on is Brett Kean (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward). Two other quarterbacks from the Kansas City area are on their radar in Ryan Willis (Bishop Miege) and Brian Sharp (Liberty North).

Christian Alexander (Lakeland Christian) is one to watch for, as the Bulls have extended an offer to him.

Of course, they already have quarterback commitment in Deundre Picket-White (Miami Southwest).

Remember, camp season is starting next week. USF will have camps on their campus as well as four satellite camps throughout the state. Certainly, new names could emerge.

If you would like to submit a question for next week's mailbag please email me at jamienewbergbw@yahoo.com

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