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April 28, 2010

Ask Jamie: Versatile Florida talent

Jamie Newberg is a football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. He tackles your questions in his weekly mailbag feature.
Previous mailbags:
April 21: Draft talk
April 14: Longhorns looking outside?
April 7: Will the 'Canes bounce back?

Florida commit A.C. Leonard and Florida State commit Karlos Williams are a couple of the most versatile talents in the 2011 class. What positions will they end up playing in college?

How is the 2011 class shaping up for Georgia Tech at this early stage? Can Illinois bounce back with a good recruiting class this year?

Find out in this week's mailbag.


Chose a side

What's your opinion of Florida commitment A.C. Leonard? What position do you think he plays? He looks really good on both sides of the ball.

- Travis from Altamonte Springs, Fla.

You can say that again. Leonard has to be one of the top two-way stars from the Sunshine State. Leonard, 6 feet 2 and 232 pounds, is from Interlachen, Fla. He stars on both sides of the ball (at receiver and defensive end). Leonard has great athleticism. For his size he has excellent speed, strength and quickness. Leonard is a playmaker.

I think he's good enough to play either offense or defense in Gainesville. But look for Leonard to suit up at tight end for Urban Meyer and the Gators. Leonard possesses the right skill set and athletic ability to be a big-time weapon in the Florida offense.

Leonard is one of four commitments for the Gators thus far, joining quarterback Jeff Driskel, defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan and cornerback De'Ante Saunders. Florida is off to a nice start with its 2011 recruiting class.


Bouncing back

Do you see Illinois bouncing back with a good recruiting class this season?

- Mike from Cincinnati

Absolutely. If there is one thing that coach Ron Zook does very well, it's recruit. Although his 2010 class was No. 70 in the Rivals.com national rankings, I think it was just one of those years. Zook's previous four classes finished 35th, 23rd, 20th and 31st.

This is a big year for Illinois and Zook. If they survive and play well on the field, I would suspect a nice rebound with their 2011 recruiting class.

So far the Illini have a pair of commitments in safety Zeph Grimes and offensive tackle Hunter Wells.


Jackets start local

How good of a start has it been for Georgia Tech?

- Willy from Smyrna, Ga.

The Yellow Jackets keep plugging along. While Georgia and many of their SEC counterparts find themselves dominating the Peach State headlines when it comes to recruiting, Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech quietly go about their business. Since his arrival in Atlanta a few years back, Johnson has made his backyard priority No. 1. The Jackets now land most of their recruits from their home state. That wasn't always the case when Chan Gailey and George O'Leary were coaching the Jackets.

The ACC champions have five commitments in their 2011 recruiting class, including three from Georgia in running back Quartterrio Morgan, offensive tackle Bryan Chamberlain and defensive end Chaz Cheeks. Offensive tackle Trey Braun, from Tallahassee, Fla., and athlete Airyn Willis, from High Point, N.C., have also committed to Georgia Tech.

Georgia Tech looks for real specific players and athletes, particularly for its triple-option offense. The Jackets have found good pieces so far, especially with Morgan and Willis. Look for the Jackets to once again get a bulk of their recruiting done in their home state.


Jalil's impact

What kind of impact will Mustafa Jalil have at Cal?

- Sammy from San Diego

I think he could have a big impact for the Bears. The question is when? I have always believed it's harder to play early the closer you are to the football. It's a difficult transition for incoming freshmen to play in the trenches or at quarterback.

So it's hard to answer this question about Jalil, especially considering he still has a senior season to play. But I do know this; I like what I see on film with Jalil. He has very good size (6-4 and 300 pounds) and gets off the ball fairly quick. What I am most impressed with is his strength and ability to push the pocket. Jalil makes a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage. I also like his versatility, as Jalil plays everywhere on the defensive line.

To me, he looks like a terrific prospect who has some serious upside for Cal. The Bears are hoping he can step in at strongside defensive end and play the same position as the departed Tyson Alualu.


Versatile talent

What side of the ball do you see Karlos Williams playing on at Florida State?

Chip from Destin, Fla.

Williams is talented enough to play on either side of the ball at the next level. Williams, 6-2 and 210 pounds, is from Davenport, Fla., and he has already committed to Florida State.

So will he play wide receiver or safety? Or perhaps will he grow into a linebacker? While I think he could be a very good offensive weapon for Jimbo Fisher and his Seminoles, I believe Williams ends up on defense. He has size, speed and great range in both run support and coverage. Williams also plays with outstanding instincts.

This kid can play on either side of the ball. I just happen to think it will be on defense in Tallahassee.



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