Saturday, June 21, 2014

Barbershop Saturday Volume 2


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Guarantano Emerging As Top Five QB Class Of 2016


I understand Jarrett Guarantona was offered by Rutgers the summer following his eighth grade year, while on an unofficial visit to the school with his father. It may sound crazy to some but, to the Rutgers Coaching Staff and other coaching staffs around the country, it makes good sense. The talent and physical ability is obvious. 

This young standout athlete from Bergen Catholic has been performing at a high level on the field. He is a pocket passer with great feet and no fear of tucking the ball and taking off. And, it is because of these consistent great decisions behind the center that he has created this abundance of attention. 

The four-star recruit is currently ranked 5th in the state of New Jersey, 3rd among pro-style quarterbacks, and 92nd among 2016 high school recruits by 247Sports.

It is important to note Scout.com has him listed as a 5 star pro-style quarterback.

He has great measurables at 6-3 and 195 lbs. Most that evaluate him believes he has the tangibles to compete in the best and the toughest conference. Being from Oradell, NJ has not stopped programs from around the country from recruiting him.

Simply put, he is emerging as one the elite in the Class of 2016.
He is also the son of James Guarantano, former Rutgers wide receiver and Rutgers Football Hall of Fame inductee. His Dad played for Rutgers from 1989-92.

And, his Dad left the school as one of the most productive offensive players to ever don the Scarlet. At the time, he was first all-time in receptions (158), second in receiving yards (2,065) and third in touchdowns (11), earning the loyalty his alma mata showed him in offering his son, Jarrett.
Guarantano started the last four games of the 2013 season and split time the previous five with senior Colin McGovern. He accumulated 449 passing yards, 59 rushing yards and four total TDs in his limited role.

The expectation is he will be the starter this year.

Although he’s a 2016 recruit, Guarantano, he has offers from Illinois, Clemson, Ohio State, Tennessee, Arizona State, Boston College, Connecticut, Louisville, Michigan State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Rutgers, Syracuse, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

When I asked him has he narrowed down his choices yet, he responded….

"They were all pretty nice, I liked them all," he said. "But there were a few that stood out more so than others. He also indicated he would like to wait a little longer to name some leaders.

He did say though, that he hears a lot from Urban Meyer and that he is definitely one of his favorite coaches right now. He wants to be an early entry into college; and, he wants to commit to a school that has a reputation for higher learning.

When I asked who does he like right now? He was sure to point out his heavy favorites were Cam Newton and Peyton Manning.
But, he credits Coach Tony Ballard for his development mentally and physically. He said, “Working with Coach Ballard since my 7th grade year has really helped me and kept me focused. “I owe Coach Ballard a lot,” he said.

The Scouting Report from SBNation states….


This Oradell, New Jersey, prospect from Bergen Catholic is
going to have some hype behind him as he comes into his junior and senior years. A big arm and a 4.59-second 40-time will do that to a person. As for the Badgers, they may have come too late."

It was on a day when Louisville (always Louisville) and Syracuse offered, and his offer list already includes Arizona State, Clemson, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Rutgers and Tennessee. Add to that interest from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State and Oklahoma, and it could be a moon-shooter to land Guarantano.”

This Class of 2016 QB is definitely emerging as a leader on everyone's board. 

Vol Nation is hopeful about this talented QB also. His Dad played under Butch Jones at Rutgers. 

And, Jarrett was quoted as saying....

“Tennessee really has everything I’m looking for. Like I said, I loved everything about the visit,” Guarantano said. “The crowd was awesome and I love tradition. And you can’t get much more tradition than down here. Payton Manning, of course, one of my favorite quarterbacks. I would love to shadow everything he’s done.”

My thoughts are, "A very talented athlete but, a even better person and young man. At the end of conversation...he thanked me for taking the time to talk to him. 

Just awesome!!

Austin Kendall Is Taking Advantage Of All The Attention

Austin Kendall is looking to add more offers. And, he has become a consistent standout at camp after camp. The question around the recruiting trail is....."Is he a Tennessee Vol lean?" Well, time will tell. I applaud him for keeping his feelings about that close to the vest. He has plenty of time to make that important life decision. 

This Class of 2016
QB has performed well on the field and the classroom. He will be entering his Jr. season at Charlotte Christian, in Charlotte, North Carolina.  

The 6’2 205 lb athlete is a pro style QB and, he has had success very early.

As a Fr in 2012 he played in nine games. He threw for 1,500 yards and 18 touchdowns, and rushed for over 200 yards and another score.

As a Soph in 2013 he completed 111-of-182 passes for 1,668 yards and 20 touchdowns and rushed for over 300 yards and three touchdowns.

I would say the attention started to grow at that point. But, you can't deny all attention and focus on him right now. He performed well at the Penn State/Georgia State Camp earlier this month. He performed well in Knoxville and may be a serious target by the Vols. 

The Scouting report on Kendall is…
He'll be categorized as a Pro Style guy; but he definitely has the ability to tuck it and run. He had very good footwork and an extremely quick release. His release is crazy good for a 10th grader. He is unbelievable at this point. He's been coached up well. Also, I like the way he keeps his eyes downfield when he moves out of the pocket. Very impressive kid!
Asked about his visit to the Volunteer State, the Tar Heel State QB said, "I thought it was great," Kendall said of the Neyland Stadium atmosphere. "I was there for the Georgia game and that was an amazing game. I loved the atmosphere. It was really loud. It definitely distracts the other team. The coaches gave me good feedback and it was a great time."

For sentimental reasons and the way he grew up, he would like to hear from the Georgia Bulldogs. He tells me his Dad walked on there and he grew up watching them extensively. He is hoping to take a visit to Bulldawg Nation so they can see him up close.

During our interview I also asked about how he would choose a school. I told him I thought his list of offers were getting pretty lengthy. And, I wondered how he would narrow it down. He was very adamant and confident in his response.

He said, “I am looking for several things during the recruiting process. I would like a good relationship with the coaching staff of the school I commit to. I want a school I can identify with, even if I was not playing sports; and of course, I want a school that has the major I am interested in; and a strong academic background.”

I asked him too about his relationship with Coach Tony Ballard. He said, “It’s been very good for me. He is very smart and he has taught me a lot. Our practices have made me comfortable for the games. I am comfortable in my progressions."

Charlotte Christian is right down the road from Columbia, SC. I will make a point of going to see him play this year. He has very good measureables, and I expect him to continue to garner offers. 

I may also take him up on that fishing trip. He seems to think he is good at it. I am inclined to agree with him after taking note of his big catches. He considered going fishing, starting the Summer off right. But, it is obvious all of these programs are impressed with more than his fishing skills right now. 

Good luck Austin....the future is bright for sure.

 Please note....VTO Elite 100 image is courtesy of UnionCounty SportsPix

Friday, June 20, 2014

Kevin Johnson Has Stuck To The Plan


Kevin Johnson is looking forward to his SR Season with Pace Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a 6-foot, 170 pound rising-senior quarterback. Johnson is a mature quarterback who knows the game. His father played at the University of South Carolina and is now the head coach at Pace Academy. Coach Johnson has obviously laid out a plan for his son, and he has seemingly followed it to a tee. 

And, it is because of the success of that plan that I am now writing about such a wonderful individual. It was a pleasure to interact with Kevin and find out what he thinks of this recruiting process; his success on the field and in the classroom. 

He came off so focused and so mature. He knew where his successes and failures lied in last year; and, he voiced where he would like to end up this year. Again....very mature.

This three star recruit by way of 24/7 is looking to improve over his Jr Season where his team had a pedestrian record of 5-5.

This being his last hurrah on the HS level, I think he understands what’s at stake. I also get the feeling in talking to him that he understands the recruiting process, since his Dad has gone through it.

Kevin is a pocket passer for sure. He stands at 6’0 and has really benefited from the training of Coach Tony Ballard who is known as the Quarterback Guru. He indicated to me that he knew he wanted to be a quarterback at an early age. And, he credit his continued development to Coach Ballard. He says….
My progression of reading defenses and understanding the coverage I am facing has been because of Coach Ballard. I have really learned a lot from him. He is also a friend, and he makes sure to call and text me to check on me. I really owe a lot to him for the success I am having now.”
When I asked him to tell me who were some of his favorites in the game at the next two levels. He did not hesitate to mention Bridgewater from Louisville, who was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings, and then of course Peyton Manning who he says, "Has a great command of the game."

He has garnered offers from Marshall, Mercer, Middle Tennessee, James Maison, and Boston. And, with 1700 yards passing and 24 TDS I can understand why.

The scouting report on Kevin is…..
Not the biggest quarterback, but big enough, and very smart. He sees the field well, he throws a very catchable ball, and he showed good anticipation Sunday in our camp. He is a coach's son and it shows on the field. 
It was good to sit down with this QB who has gotten his share of national attention. He was so impressive when I heard his story and interacted with him, I thought it was time that he received a little more.
He said, “I am looking for an institution where I can find the right balance between the classroom and field.  I would like to pursue a University with an outstanding academic reputation in the field of Criminal Justice.  Ideally, my athletic environment would be one where I could make an immediate impact on the team.  I believe my best fit would be at the D1-A or D1-AA level.  I am also interested in historically black schools.”
It’s good to see him understand the process for what it is. It is also good to hear him voice the mindset that he is not oppose to the idea of more than just Div 1 Schools and Football Programs.

I have always said when meeting athletes and blogging about the process, that it’s important to play and get film on one’s self. And, if a D-1A, D-1AA level or HBCU offers that, you must not rule that out as the athlete. Nor can you rule out the possibility of HBCU play as an option. 

With his Father playing OL for the Gamecocks, Kevin is definitely getting some attention from the USC program and Gamecock Nation. I have monitored the message boards, and he is receiving high remarks from the fanatical college fans in Columbia, SC.

His Father as I mentioned is no stranger to this game and to the process. Coach Johnson has seen a lot of football and recruiting in his day. He had this to say about his son.....
Kevin worked really hard to get where he is today. I know he will continue his hard work and dedication both on and off the field. Hard work pays off if you stick to the plan.
I too wish him well. I have no doubt he will make the right decision. His GPA is in a place where he could actually receive an academic scholarship. Not only are the parents affecting his play on the field but, they are steering him in the right direction in the classroom. I applaud the entire family.

I expect Kevin to be an early entry. I expect Kevin to be on someone’s roster for Spring Ball. And, I expect Kevin to continue his success in the classroom and on the field. 

Again, I will definitely follow his Senior Season.

Is Logan Byrd The Next Tim Tebow Or Blazing His Own Trail?

The next Tebow may not be doing him a lot of justice but, he definitely reminds me of that whole Tim Tebow wow factor when I watch him on film. Logan Byrd carries himself well in all aspects of his life. He values the concept of education, and he continues to progress on the field as the starting QB for the Warhawks of Veterans High School in Kathleen, Georgia.

As college football sports fan, we are all so fascinated with the top players and their commitment to our particular university or college. So, today the following of these athletes very early is not rare.

There are a lot of reasons why we follow them, including the emergence of Social Media that makes it so easy. But, most of all we fans feel vindicated and have a certain sense of affirmation when these athletes say, “I am going to the University of" You can complete the thought.

I deemed it important to write about Logan for so many reasons. His success at an early age is one of them; then, I find it impressive that his parents are so involved in the recruiting process but, stay so humbled by the obvious success their son is having; finally, that he is gotten to this stage in his athletic career because of the QB Guru himself, Coach Tony Ballard. I am very impressed with Coach as a Man, Mentor, and Trainer. 

All of these aspects inspired me to take note of Logan Byrd. But, I must also say,  "it a is bigger pleasure to sit down and talk to this young man and his family." Logan Byrd, his parents Mike and Shannon were a delight. They opened up to me and told me about their path to this point; and, I could not wait to share it with my readers.

Mike says, "Logan has always played football with a passion. And, we started noticing very early that he may have talent playing the game. He is a gentle kid that knows how to turn it on once he gets to the field." 

It is especially a pleasure when it seems the parents and the athletes get this thing right. And, when I say get it right…..I mean his parents expect a certain focus on academia and Logan has delivered. He is just as much a Superstar in the classroom as he is on the field.

I got a chance to spend some time with Logan Byrd, aka Tim Tebow. Again, he reminded me of Tebow so much while talking to him. And, if you see him on the field/film, you will definitely say the same thing. His body frame would indicate a lot more time at linebacker than at QB for sure. But, in this case, I am thinking the similarities end there. I am certainly hoping his future will lead to a lot more time in the NFL, which is of course unlike what Tebow was able to do.

But, that’s enough of the Tebow comparisons.

At 16 Logan is already 6’3 and 232lbs. He squats 425lbs and bench presses 295lbs.

In talking to the parents, they both seem very well grounded in all of
this. They realize the wonderful upside in all of this success. But, 
they take it in stride. They are very humble. Now, Dad says it’s no big deal at the games while watching his son. But, I think it’s important to note, Shannon (Mom) says otherwise.

As a matter of fact, she says, “Mike paces the sidelines and periodically yells things at his son during the game.”  Any she says, “At the games we dare not sit together.”

To say the least, Logan Bryd, QB, Veterans HS, Class of 2016's performances have warranted all of the attention. He directed his team to a Regional Championship. He passed for over 1300 yards in his Sophmore season, and rushed for almost 300 yards.  He also had seven touchdowns in 2013. He rotated at the position qs a Fr to begin the season but; by mid-season, it was his job to keep. I am definitely looking forward to the upcoming season. I say a State Championship is in the cards if Logan Byrd has anything to do with it.

He gives a lot of credit to his Quarterback Coach, Tony Ballard. He said, “I have been working with him since I was in the seventh grade. He has been there for me to talk about football and anything else in life. He has been the reason that I can go through my progressions on the field. He has broken down my mechanics and built them back up to what they are now. We text and talk often.

Logan is considered a pocket passer; a pass first passer. This athlete is also one that is willing to take off and steal some first downs. A lot like what Tebow did in college, and like what Blake Bortles did last year with UCF. That success got Bortles a first round pick in the recent NFL Draft.

He has garnered offers from Minnesota, Duke, North Carolina, Mercer, Virginia, Va Tech, and so many more that I can’t just name them all.

From my understanding he grew up a Georgia Bulldog fan. This Gator won't hold that against him. And, being in the Bulldogs back yard will definitely work in their favor. I hoping that he at least visit "The Swamp."

Either way, I will be looking out for this young star. The future is bright. There is nothing you can say about a young adult that’s better than, “he has his head on straight.”

In discussing how he going to make his decision in picking a college he tells Varsity Preps….

My ranking would be Education, Coaching Staff, Facilities, and Tradition. Though football beyond college would probably be any collegiate football player’s dream, planning for my career after college is more important. Getting the right education in a discipline of my choice will be the cornerstone of my success. Having the right coaching staff around me for 4 years is a very close second in importance.
I can’t wait to follow Logan’s path throughout this season. I sure hope my readers do the same. 

Please take a look at how Logan is spending his Summer.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014

Free Agency Signing In The SEC...


FL teams have about $80,000 to pool together for small signing bonuses for top priority undrafted players, and the process of making an NFL roster for the undrafted is far from over. Several undrafted players have already inked their free agent deals. The following list, broken down by team, is as accurate as we can make it, as some players change their minds:

Alabama

CB Deion Belue (Miami Dolphins)
CB John Fulton (Philadelphia Eagles)
LB Adrian Hubbard (Green Bay Packers)*
P Cody Mandell (Dallas Cowboys)
LB Tana Patrick (Chicago Bears)
OG Anthony Steen (Arizona Cardinals)

Arkansas

WR Javontee Herndon (San Diego Chargers)
OT David Hurd (Miami Dolphins)
DT Robert Thomas (Washington Redskins)

Auburn

DT Kenneth Carter (Kansas City Cheifs)
P Steven Clark (Denver Broncos)
CB Chris Davis (San Diego Chargers)
DL Nosa Eguae (Atlanta Falcons)
K Cody Parkey (Indianapolis Colts)
DB Ryan White (Green Bay Packers)

Florida

TE Trey Burton (Philadelphia Eagles)
C Jonotthan Harrison (Indianapolis Colts)
DT Damien Jacobs (Buffalo Bills)
LB Darrin Kitchens (Buffalo Bills)
WR Solomon Patton (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
CB Loucheiz Purifoy (reported Denver Broncos)*
CB Marcus Roberson (Has not signed)*

Georgia

OG Chris Burnette (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
DL Garrison Smith (Miami Dolphins)
WR Rantavious Wooten (Miami Dolphins)

Kentucky

DT Mister Cobble (Denver Broncos)
DT Donte Rumph (Atlanta Falcons)

LSU

WR Kadron Boone (Philadelphia Eagles)
FB JC Copeland (Dallas Cowboys)
DT Anthony Johnson (Miami Dolphins)*
S Craig Loston (Arizona Cardinals)

Mississippi State

DE Denico Autry (Green Bay Packers)
RB LaDarius Perkins (Green Bay Packers)
S Nickoe Whitley (Cleveland Browns)

Missouri

QB James Franklin (Detroit Lions)
RB Henry Josey (Philadelphia Eagles)*
WR Marcus Lucas (Carolina Panthers)
WR L’Damian Washington (Dallas Cowboys)
TE Eric Waters (Pittsburgh Steelers)
LB Andrew Wilson (Miami Dolphins)

Ole Miss

OT Pierce Burton (Minnesota Vikings)
LB Emmanuel McCray (St. Louis Rams)
RB Jeff Scott (Cincinnati Bengals)

South Carolina

CB Jimmy LeGree (Seattle Seahawks)
OG Ronald Patrick (Dallas Cowboys)
DT Kelcy Quarles (New York Giants)*
QB Connor Shaw (Cleveland Browns)
DE Chaz Sutton (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
CB Vic Hampton (Has not signed)*

Tennessee

OG Alex Bullard (Detroit Lions)
LS JR Carr (Washington Redskins)
RB Rajion Neal (Green Bay Packers)
K Michael Palardy (New York Jets)
OT Antonio Richardson (Minnesota Vikings)*
LB Dontavis Sapp (Dallas Cowboys)
DE Jacques Smith (Atlanta Falcons)
OL James Stone (Atlanta Falcons)

Texas A&M

DB Tony Hurd (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
WR Travis Labhart (Houston Texans)
RB Ben Malena (Dallas Cowboys)
WR Derel Walker (Tennessee Titans)

Vanderbilt

CB Steven Clarke (Miami Dolphins)
WR Jonathan Krause (Cleveland Browns)
S Kenny Ladler (Buffalo Bills)
S Javon Marshall (Atlanta Falcons)
DE Walker May (Atlanta Falcons)
K Carey Spear (Philadelphia Eagles)

Congrats Florida Gator Softball

Monday, May 5, 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Never Had It So Good Sports Talks To Emerson Martin and Derick Jones of Players2Pros...

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Joe Burns, RisingSenior.com, A Guest on Never Had It So Good Sports Radio


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Final Four, My Take

                                       
                             
Florida Gators v UConn Huskies

I think this game comes down to the four seniors, how bad they want it, and the preparation provided by Coach Billy Donovan. These seniors seem to be on a mission. They have continued to improve and play as a team. I would be surprised to see them falter so close to the prize. Patric Young announce to the other three on the sidewalks of Gainesville, "If we stick together we can make history." They are almost at the mountain top if they can stay in the moment.

Will Yeguete has played his role and had some very key moments up to now. Patric Young is fierce down low. And, even though he doesn't have consistent offensive games his, defensive presence has been undeniable. Casey Prather has to continue his, "And 1's," and creating his own shot and looks down the lanes. Scottie Wilbekin has to continue to be Scottie. If he plays the same tenacious defense on the best player of their opponents team, they will be hard to beat. In addition if he is clutch on offense and averages 17 points and 4 assist as he did throughout regional play, then I think the Gator chances will increase. Wilbekin has only two turnovers in the entire tournament so far. Yep, just two. That is outstanding for any PG at this juncture in March Madness....

Napier is key for the Huskies. And, also the preparation by Kevin Ollie. I must say it has surprised me and many others on how well the Huskies have stayed in the moment, and played clutch in key strethes. I do operate from the premise that the Huskies got a little home cooking from being so close to Connecticut at MSG. They played so many Big East games there that is just like home for them.

What's key overall is how well the shooters from each team adjust to the depth perception at Dallas Stadium. I look to see early how well Frazier will be hitting from behind the arc. If he finds his stroke early, I think the Gators are in the drivers seat.

My pick Gators. And, I don't think I am going out on a limb. This has been their goal....and I just feel they will find a way. There is a revenge factor. UConn is the last team to beat the Gators this season. It would surprise me to see the Huskies have enough to get the the NCG.


Wisconsin Badgers v Kentucky Wildcats


First of all, I must admit, I don't want to see the Wildcats win anything in any sport. But, especially the Calipari Cats. With that being said though, I do feel this is a dangerous team--the team out of Big Blue Nation that is.

Randle, Young, and the Harrison twins have found their place on this team. They seem to understand that to  play together is much stronger and effective than their individual play. Good to see them grow right in front of me. If Randle is dominant down low and Young and Harrison, (pick anyone of the twins) is hitting from outside then let's call it right now.

But, I also feel the Badgers will have a lot to say about the offensive performance of the Wildcats.

Bo Ryan has never courted a team that could not play defense. And, this Badger team is not void of defensive talent. But, if Kaminsky continues his offensive production I am all in for the Badgers taking a close one.

I really feel the Wildcats will fall back into their old habits and the spotlight of individual play, and the Badgers will be the tortoise and continue their methodical defense and boring offense right on to the NCG.

That's right....I am picking Wisconsin & Florida to play on Monday. And, if that plays out Florida will play the only other team to beat them this year in the National Championship Game April 7th.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

Tuesday, March 25, 2014