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September 6, 2011

Florida mailbag: Pittman better with ball

MORE: Mid-Atl | Midwest | West | SW | SE

Which side of the ball for Latroy Pittman?

Is FSU playing catch-up?

And can Miami hang onto its recruits despite likely NCAA sanctions?

These questions and more are addressed by Rivals.com analyst Chris Nee in the Florida recruiting mailbag.


Pittman's place

Do you think Latroy Pittman ends up on offense or defense with the Gators?

- Henry, Gainesville, Fla.

I believe Florida has recruited the talented Citra North Marion athlete for offense and that he will remain at wide receiver at the next level. He is certainly capable of playing safety at the next level and shows his comfort with that spot regularly on Friday nights with his high school squad.

The Gators are getting a talented wide receiver with excellent hands and outstanding body control who I think has the capability to contribute in his first year on campus in Charlie Weis' offense.


State of the Seminoles

FSU is definitely in contention for a few five star prospects out there but it seems like it is playing catch up on most prospects. Which player is most likely to sign with FSU?

- Ashkon, Phoenix, Ariz.

Florida State has been heavily involved for a number of months with four uncommitted five-star prospects: Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate Academy defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep athlete Nelson Agholor, Miramar (Fla.) cornerback Tracy Howard and Tempe (Ariz.) Corona Del Sol offensive tackle Andrus Peat. I wouldn't say the Seminoles are playing catch-up with those four as they have had them all on campus at one point or another and done a good job of building a bond with them throughout the process.

If I had to pick one of those four that I feel Florida State has the best chance of landing, I would say that is Howard, the defensive back from South Florida. The reason why I believe Howard is the most likely of those four to end up in Tallahassee is that unlike the others, he is probably the one needed in Tallahassee instead of simply wanted.

Florida State has taken only one defensive back in the 2012 class - Ocala (Fla.) Vanguard's P.J. Williams - who is more likely to end up at safety than at cornerback. Also, the Seminoles made a strong move with Howard during the summer months when they got him on campus twice in the month of July. It won't be easy though, as Howard, who claims no leader at this time, is being heavily recruited by Florida, Miami, Alabama, LSU and numerous others.


No panic yet

Given all that is going on with the Hurricanes, assuming the penalty, if any, isn't too bad do you see the 'Canes holding on to the verbals they have and do they get Deon Bush, Tracy Howard and/or any other top-tier recruits in this class?

- Randy, Chicago

I have my doubts that the NCAA makes any ruling with regards to the Miami case prior to National Signing Day 2012. But to answer your question, let's presume the ruling that is handed down is in the ballpark of losing multiple scholarships over a couple years and possibly a one- or two-year bowl ban - again simply hypothetical, relying on the USC ruling for some framework. Such sanctions I believe would cause some recruits to look elsewhere but not hurt the 'Canes if they can win on the field. Winning cures all.

Since the investigation into Miami athletics came to light, a few prospects currently pledged to Al Golden and company have talked about taking a look around such as Miami Norland linebacker Keith Brown, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas defensive end Jelani Hamilton and Lakeland Lake Gibson defensive end Trent Taylor, as well as a couple of others. Overall though, the 'Canes' commitments are standing firm and not wavering. Out of the 24 commitments to Miami, I think there are roughly a half-dozen that will seriously flirt with other programs and I wouldn't be surprised if they lose a couple of those before next February. Again, though, I don't think the entire class is in jeopardy, simply a few of the better commitments currently pledged to the program.

As for the likelihood of them adding another big prospect, I still believe the 'Canes edge out Auburn for the services of Miami Columbus defensive back Deon Bush, a Rivals100 four-star. It is no secret that Bush is the top prospect on the board for the 'Canes. I also think there is a good chance that they add Weston (Fla.) Cypress Bay offensive guard Daniel Isidora. While Isidora is just a three-star prospect, he is one of the better interior offensive linemen in the Sunshine State and would be a nice addition upfront.


South Florida talent

In the last mailbag you said issues for Miami would be a bigger issue with regards to 2013 prospects in South Florida. How good is the 2013 class in the Miami area?

- Jon, Coral Gables, Fla.

The Miami area is always packed with talent, but there are some great players that have already emerged for 2013. I'd say the 2013 class in South Florida is better and deeper than the 2012 group.

One position where the depth is clearly evident is at running back. Some headliners at the position that hail from South Florida include Delray Beach American Heritage running back Greg Bryant, Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas running back Fred Coppet, Miami Columbus running back Lorenzo Woodley and Belle Glade Glades Day running back Kelvin Taylor.

Another strong offensive position will be wide receiver led by Oakland Park Northeast wideout Stacy Coley and Fort Lauderdale University wideout Jordan Cunningham.

There is talent on defense too, including Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas defensive end Joey Bosa, West Palm Beach Dwyer defensive end Malik Brown, Miami Booker T. Washington linebacker Matthew Thomas, as well as defensive backs such as Miami Southridge's Jamal Carter., Miami Northwestern's Artie Burns, Belle Glade Glades Central's William Likely and Plantation's Sojourn Shelton.

That is just some of the top talent that has emerged as their junior seasons begin.


Harris poll

What player without an offer in the senior class do you expect to land offers during his senior season?

- Miles, Tampa

After watching Vernon Harris, a safety for Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, against Prattville a week ago, I am amazed that he doesn't hold any offers. Harris has good size and displayed athleticism that should allow him to play somewhere on the Division I level. Most of all, he showed the ability and understanding of how to position himself to make plays and then the ability to execute and make those plays he had set himself up for.

Harris was part of a crowded secondary in 2010 and probably kept him under the radar, but as part of a loaded Aquinas roster I expect colleges to come calling during his senior season and for him to find a home somewhere.


Georgia lands good one

What is your opinion on Georgia commitment Derrick Henry? Is he one of the best in 2013?

- Brian, Waycross, Ga.

I got a chance to see Henry, along with his Yulee (Fla.) team, face Jacksonville (Fla.) Bolles during his sophomore season and I left that game convinced he would be a major impact player at the collegiate level. His performance at The Opening this summer did nothing to change my opinion with regards to him having high-level athleticism that puts him in position to contribute at the collegiate level in some form or fashion. Now, the question that surrounds Henry is where he lines up in college. While I think he could remain at running back, with his size and athletic traits it will be tough for a team not to try him at tight end or possibly defensive end/outside linebacker.

I'm not ready to say that I consider him a five-star lock in 2013, especially with his future position up in the air, but I think he has shown enough to prove that he is likely a Rivals100 prospect down the road.



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