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March 30, 2011

Mid-Atlantic Mailbag: N.Y. talent on the rise?

MORE MAILBAGS: Midlands | Florida | West | Southeast

Is there more talent that usual in the state of New York for the 2012 class?

How are the Hokies, Terps and Nittany Lions doing on the recruiting trail so far?

Is it a strong or weak year for quarterback prospects in the Mid-Atlantic region?

These questions and more are addressed by Rivals.com analyst Mike Farrell in the Mid-Atlantic recruiting mailbag.


New York talent

It seems like there are several talented prospects in New York this year, or at least more than usual, wouldn't you say?

- Paul from Ithaca, N.Y.

I wouldn't say more talent than usual, but there looks to be some good top-end talent in the state but we'll see if it's as deep as 2011. Last year there was Ishaq Williams then a big drop off after that but some good depth with guys like Kieran Borcich, Quentin Gause, Al Page, Devon Cajuste and Brandon Reddish.

In the 2012 class Rochester is home to defensive tackle Jarron Jones, a massive 6-foot-5, 305-pound force in the middle of a defense that's going to be one of the East Coast's most coveted prospects. He's got offers from all over and is taking his time with things. Brooklyn cornerback Wayne Morgan is another potentially elite prospect earning offers regularly. He doesn't have any favorites either but it seems like Michigan really has his attention lately. Buffalo quarterback Chad Kelly, the nephew of Jim Kelly, is one of the region's top quarterbacks and he's drawing some nice offers. Alabama and Florida State look to have the edge for now.

Athlete Stacey Bedell and wide receiver Marcus McGill are also earning interest and there are some players like Devante McFarlane, Kalief Joyner and a few others who could earn offers after summer camps.


Strong start

It looks like Virginia Tech has a few solid commitments. What do you think of the guys that have committed to the Hokies?

- Lee from Centreville, Va.

The Hokies are off to a nice start so far. Four of their five commitments are from out of state but they're also poised to do very well in their own backyard with top in-state talents like Joel Caleb and Korren Kirven very high on them.

TJ Millweard is a really quality quarterback they've got out of Texas. He has a good arm and ideal size. He's still a little raw but he's got all the tools to develop into a good college quarterback. Hope Mills (N.C.) South View linebacker Dahman McKinnon was a bit of a sleeper even at this early date, but with 144 tackles last fall he proved himself to be a productive force.

The real excitement has to be over the two cornerbacks that are already on board. Davion Tookes of Fairburn (Ga.) Creekside is an electrifying athlete that just makes big plays and Donaldven Manning is one of the top defensive backs in the Southeast. Manning maintains that he's solid to the Hokies but he's still going to be visiting some other schools in the summer. Don't expect schools to back off anytime soon. Tookes could help with teammate Joshua Holsey, another great cornerback prospect that has the Hokies in his top two, along with Auburn.

The latest commitment is from tight end Dakota Jackson who is a great blocker and has very solid hands. So far it's been a great start for the Hokies and if they can close out on some of the following guys -- Caleb, Kirven, Deon Clarke, Ken Ekanem, Desmond Frye, Alston Smith and others - they will have a strong year.


Edsall's early work

How do you think Randy Edsall is doing so far at Maryland?

-Terrence from Baltimore

No one has doubted Edsall's ability to identify talent that others overlook and find ways to win football games. That's what he's made his living doing. There were some that questioned whether he could recruit at a high enough level to continue to climb the coaching ladder. Maryland gave him an opportunity and they aren't disappointed so far.

The Terps have generated plenty of interest with recruits and three prospects have committed. Mike Madaras is the gem of the bunch of far. The 6-foot-6, 280-pound tackle from Good Counsel was a huge pickup. He's the kind of in-state kid that could really have a lot of pull with other top Maryland recruits. Defensive end Roman Braglio and Georgia offensive lineman Nick Brigham are less heralded recruits but are tough, blue collar guys that will be contributors.

There's some good talent in Maryland this year and Edsall needs to have some success right away. Based on what prospects have been telling me I think he'll surprise some folks with his first class. There's a lot of excitement. The big question is can he keep the elite talent like Stefon Diggs, Eddie Goldman and Ronald Darby interested and keep the Terps in the mix for them until the end. That will be a big test.


Penn State's class

I'm really liking the three guys that Penn State has so far. Do you think this is going to be a big year for Paterno?

- Allen from Pittsburgh

Last year definitely wasn't Penn State's best but a lot of that had to do with the fact that it was a very down year for talent in Pennsylvania. This year there's plenty of talent in the state, and if Penn State can lock down even just some of those top guys the improvement will be vast.

I really like the four commits they've got already, too. Anthony Stanko is an offensive lineman with great size and he's an extremely strong kid. He didn't have many impressive Big Ten offers but I think he can be an interior guy for PSU and a road grader. Camren Williams is a very good athlete who projects as a linebacker but could also be a big safety. He is still growing into his frame and once he adds upper body mass to match his lower body, he will be a big body who can really move. Their most recent commitment, Brent Wilkerson, may be their best. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound prospect could be an elite defensive end or tight end in college and he surprised some folks by making such an early decision. The latest commitment, Jesse James, is a huge target at tight end who could top out at 270 pounds or so by the time he's done on a 6-foot-7 frame. That's a mismatch for any team.

With those guys on board and the improvement of talent in Pennsylvania this year, I do expect a big year for Penn State.


Down year for QBs?

It doesn't seem like there are many big-time quarterbacks in the region this year. Is that safe to say?

-Alex from Durham, N.C.

There really isn't anybody that jumps off the page at you and certainly no one with five-star potential.

Greensboro (N.C.) Page quarterback James Summers is one of the region's top dual-threats with offers from North Carolina and NC State, so he's one to watch. Most of the other top quarterbacks in the region are drop back kids, and even among those the quality is just pretty good, not great.

Casey Cochran has a chance to be one of the top quarterbacks to come out of the Northeast in recent memory but his size has scared some schools away as he's just 6-foot-1. However, no one throws the ball with better mechanics in the region. Rutgers and some other schools like Blake Rankin out of Pennsylvania and Brendan Nosovitch, another Pennsylvania kid, has an offer from UVa and is being evaluated.

Florida State has actually offered a couple of kids from the Northeast in Chad Kelly of New York and Sean Maguire, more recently, of New Jersey. Skyler Mornhinweg is already committed to Stanford and prospects like A.J. Doyle, Ian Fisher, Connor Jessop, Benjamin Onett, Max Ward and a few others have smaller offers and could end up as BCS guys as well.

Beyond that it definitely seems like a somewhat weak year for quarterbacks in the region.



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