Archive for March, 2009

Indiana High Schools Developing Division 1 Caliber Football Talent

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Posted by Mark Branstad – Football Talent Advisors

According to a fascinating article written by Scott Kennedy of there were 2,448 players nationally that signed with Division 1 football programs for 2009.  Of course high schools in Texas, Florida, and California led the way with the most D1 signees.  What caught my attention was the state of Indiana with 41 Division 1 signees. 

That is a larger number than normal for Indiana, as Tim Adams of and points out.  ‘This will (be) the most D1 recruits ever in Indiana H.S. history 40 verbals right now by the end of the signing season we may have 50 D1 signees.’

While Indiana didn’t have “50” D1 signees it did manage 41.  When comparing 41 signees to the national total of 2,448 that equates to (0.0167%) consider that Indiana’s population is roughly 5 million and the United States total population is approximately 300 million (0.0166%).  It would appear that Indiana is sending a compariably good number of athletes to play D1 football based on total population statistics. 


FSU Pro Day Speedsters…Penn State Recruiting Speed?

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Posted by Mark Branstad – Football Talent Advisors

According to Gil Brandt’s Florida State held a pro-day and had several eye-popping 40 yard dash times.  Several highlighted players were cornerbacks Tony Carter and Michael Ray Garvin, whom I mentioned in a previous blog for running the 60 meter dash at ACC Indoor Championships a few weeks ago.  Also mentioned by Brandt was FSU running back Antone Smith. 

It is no surprise that Michael Ray Garvin ran a reported 4.24 and 4.28 40.  He was a state champion 100 meter sprinter (10.50) in New Jersey and participated in multiple NCAA Track Championships.  He was a pretty good corner and kick returner for FSU and wasn’t just another “track guy” trying to play football.  I believe an NFL team might get some production out of him, particularly if he can return kickoffs. 

Tony Carter is similar to Michael Ray Garvin in that he’s a bit small for the NFL.  However he was quite productive at FSU with 8 career interceptions and proving he could return punts this past season.  According to Brandt, Carter ran 4.41 and 4.42 at the recent pro-day.  He was a state meet qualifier in high school running both the high (14.41) and intermediate (39.15) hurdles also running a leg on a 4×100 relay squad (42.17) finishing seventh.   

Antone Smith ran 4.33 and 4.36 40’s.  Smith is small, but benched 31 reps at 225, and probably not a full-time running back in the NFL.  While he did disappoint in some eyes while at FSU, he’s another speedster with potential game-breaking abilities.  He just didn’t show it much at FSU and probably won’t be drafted very high if at all.  Like the others, Smith did flash his speed as a high schooler running the 100 meter dash (10.85) finishing runner-up in Florida and third in the 200 meter dash (22.11).  Although he did run as fast as (10.63) and (21.71) at his regional meet. 

On a different note I saw an interesting article claiming that Penn State was focused on recruiting speed after the loss to USC in the Rose Bowl.  Apparently the Penn State coaching staff sensed that USC’s roster to-a- player was faster than their’s and really went after speed in this year’s recruiting class.  The first half of the Rose Bowl certainly exposed some deficiencies of Penn State and overall team speed was probably number one.   

All I can say is Big Ten look out for Michigan in the coming years.  No I’m not the first or only one to say Michigan will rise soon but my reasons might be different. Michigan’s recruiting has set it apart from nearly all others, it has signed 13 “Tier 3″ athletes in the past two years and Rich Rod’s not finished yet.  No other team in the Big 10 is even close (except perhaps Ohio State)…the speed and athletic gap will continue to increase in Michigan’s favor and we’ll begin to see it this year.  Now if they can get a quarterback…

Follow-up to Collegiate Football Players / Indoor Track

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Posted by Mark Branstad – Football Talent Advisors

Several days ago I posted a blog in response to an blog by Bruce Feldman.  Feldman mentioned several Division 1 players that were participating in collegiate indoor track this winter, including Sam McGuffie (Rice University) and Isaiah Sweeney (University of Houston).  In my response blog I posted several other players participating in indoor track this winter. 

Apparently Bruce Feldman agrees that Football Talent Advisors is a legitimate source for track and football information:

“The other day I hit on Sam McGuffie and a few other football players who are excelling running track this winter. Football Talent Advisors has a lot more of the results of some notable players here:

‘Jacoby Ford – (WR / Clemson) – 6.51 / 60 meter champion & ACC Record / 21.18 / 200 meter prelims.'”

Thanks Bruce!

Conference Indiana High School Indoor Track

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Posted by Mark Branstad – Football Talent Advisors

I attended a high school indoor track meet Thursday (Conference Indiana) in Bloomington on IU’s campus.  I saw a few outstanding track efforts by football players.  One athlete in particular surprised me in that he isn’t going to be playing Division 1 football.  Maybe there’s grade issues or something but his size and athleticism were certainly on display. 

I was most impressed by several senior athletes…

Brandon Turner of Lawrence Central High School (Indianapolis) listed at 6’04 – 265 DE threw the shot put (55-08).   That is impressive and he’s big with more room to grow, very surprised he’s not going to be playing big college football. 

Earnie Morris of Bloomington South High School listed at 5’10 – 165 WR ran (6.64) 55 meter dash.  He’s set to play college football at Eastern Illinois.  He was all-conference in football as a senior and qualifier for state meet in 100 meters (11.02) , 200 meters (22.82) and long jump (21-03) last year.

Ben Stancombe of Bloomington South High School listed at 5’09 – 210 FB / LB threw shot put (57-00) and won the event with Turner’s 55-08 effort second. Stancombe won this indoor meet last year throwing shot put (58-00) an outstanding effort.  Ben will apparently attend and compete for the University of Iowa in track…he was injuried his entire senior football season but was a standout as a junior. 

On another note I also attended an indoor meet at Warren Central High School (Indianapolis) earlier this week and saw a number of outstanding athletes.  Two underclassmen in particular stood out, Warren Central’s Eric Robison and Kris Harley. 

Robinson, a sophomore defensive back for Warren this past fall, ran a hand-held (6.52) 55 meter dash at the indoor meet.  He qualified as a freshman for the state track meet in the 100 meter dash (11.04) and finished 7th running a leg on Warren’s 4×100 relay (42.57)…also credited with a 6’05 high jump and 21’02 long jump as a freshman.  

Harley, a sophomore listed at 6’01 265, threw the shot put 51’04” at the meet.  From what I’m told he played often last fall at defensive tackle and was quite a disruptive force to offenses.  He threw the shot put 51’07 as a freshman and won the sectional meet.  He’s a good football prospect.

Notable Collegiate Players Participate Indoor Conference Track

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Posted by Mark Branstad – Football Talent Advisors

Every year there are a handful of Division 1 football players that participate in collegiate indoor track and sometimes outdoor track.  This year is no exception, and from what I found maybe a few surprise names participating at several conference indoor championship meets. 

Bruce Feldman, Senior Writer for, noted on his blog that former Michigan freshman running back Sam McGuffie recently sprinted and long jumped for his new college, Rice University.  Feldman also noted that McGuffie was beaten in the 60 meters by Isaiah Sweeney a freshman wide receiver from University of Houston.  Interestingly both players were state caliber high school long jumpers (23-10) and Sweeney was a state champion 100 meter sprinter – 10.32. 

Here’s a look at a few notables:

SEC Indoor Conference Championships: 

Trindon Holliday – (RB – KR / LSU) – 6.58 / 60 meter SEC Indoor Champion

Geno Atkins – (DT / Georgia) – 55-07 / Shot Put…this coming off a torn ACL last fall

Deonte Thompson – (WR / Florida) – 22.14 / 200 meter prelims…expect more if he runs outdoor track

Frankie Hammond Jr. – (WR / Florida) – 6-11 / High jump…good for 3rd place

* It’ll be interesting if Florida’s other backs like Demps and Rainey run outdoors. 

ACC Indoor Conference Championships: 

C.J. Spiller – (RB / Clemson) – 6.75 / 60 meter prelims & 22.05 / 200 meter prelims

Jacoby Ford – (WR / Clemson) – 6.51 / 60 meter champion & ACC Record / 21.18 / 200 meter prelims

Michael Ray Garvin – (CB / Florida State) – 6.59 / 60 meter finals

Travis Benjamin – (WR – KR / Miami) – 7.02 / 60 meter prelims

Davon Johnson – (WR / Miami) – 6.99 / 60 meter prelims

Brandon Harris – (CB / Miami) – 7.09 / 60 meter prelims

* Good to see some Hurricanes back in the track mix…Miami used to have many players sprinting in the spring.

Big 10 Indoor Conference Championships:   

Chimdi Chekwa – (CB / Ohio State) – 6.84 / 60 meter prelims

Paul Chaney – (WR / Iowa) – 6.82 / 60 meter prelims

Vince Helmuth – (FB / Michigan) – 52-00 / Shot Put prelims

Big 12 Indoor Conference Championships: 

Ryan Miller – (OT / Colorado) – 44-05 / Shot Put prelims…threw 46-07 his first collegiate meet at Air Force Invitational earlier during indoor ’09 season. 


Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Posted by Mark Branstad – Football Talent Advisors

Notre Dame has had two consecutive disappointing seasons.  There are many theories out there as to why but I’d like to attribute a great deal of blame to recruiting.  I realize this notion flies in the face of much of what has been said by recruiting evaluators and gurus over the last few years.  However my reasons are fairly simple. 

Consider that Notre Dame, since Charlie Weis has been head coach, has recruited approximately 83 players between 2005-2008.  Of those 83 players approximately 42 had high school track and field backgrounds.  That is barely 50 percent.  Now some might say so what?  Well look at University of Texas over the same period, recruiting 84 players and 70 had high school track and field backgrounds.  That’s over 83 percent!  By the way, Indiana University and Northwestern University’s recruits over the same (2005-2008) time frame have track participation rates of 56% and 58% respectively. 

Notre Dame simply isn’t recruiting enough pure athletes to be competitive.  Sure each class has been highly touted and rated since Weis arrived, but look at the results.  I looked at Notre Dame’s 2009 recruiting class and the numbers aren’t much better.  The 2009 class has 18 recruits and 4 have track and field backgrounds…Shaquelle Evans, Cierre Wood, Chris Watt, and Dan Fox.  This doesn’t mean the other players aren’t great football players, but compare this recruiting class to Texas and you’ll see a deficiency.  The 2009 Texas class has 20 recruits and 13 participated in track and field.  The gap is not being closed in fact it is widening.

Another comparison point here is Ohio State.  Ohio State’s level of track participation amongst recruits from (2005-2008) is over 60 percent and University of Michigan’s is close at about 58 percent.  Oklahoma’s track participation rate amongst recruits is also notably higher than Notre Dame’s.   

Notre Dame probably should focus on recruiting more pure athletes, at all positions, with diverse athletic backgrounds-particularly in track.  Studying player backgrounds from those that were recruited and played under Lou Holtz indicates nearly all had diverse athletic backgrounds in high school and many were successful track athletes.  Lots of lineman during that era had shot put and discus backgrounds and nearly all “skill” position players were basketball / track or baseball athletes.    Unfortunately when researching the recruiting classes of the Weis era players don’t have the diverse athletic backgrounds as Notre Dame recruits once did.  

Worse yet, Notre Dame continues to fall behind competiting programs of today in large part due to the athletic gap…the Holtz era is but a distant memory.