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March 10, 2011

Southeast Mailbag: Tenn. QB is one to watch

More Mailbags: Mid-Atlantic | Midlands | Florida

What kind of player is Chad Voytik?

What kind of talent does the Peach State have for the Class of 2012?

What are Tennessee's chances of landing a big-time defensive lineman from Georgia?

These questions and more are addressed by Rivals.com analyst Keith Niebuhr in this Southeast region recruiting mailbag.


Voytik armed with potential

Where does (Cleveland, Tenn.) quarterback Chad Voytik end up being ranked? I have a feeling this kid is going to really blow up over the course of his senior year. What's the overall opinion of him right now and what's the opinion on his potential?

-Rex from Little Rock, Ark.

In a nutshell, we like this kid. A lot.

After reviewing video from hundreds of participants in January's U.S. Army All-American Combine in San Antonio, Rivals.com national analyst Barry Every identified 10 players who really impressed him. Voytik, who holds offers from Arkansas State, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and Virginia, made the list.

Every projected Voytik as a high three-star recruit who should hit double-digit offers.

Personally, here's what I like about Voytik (based on his video only): He has excellent arm strength, throws the deep ball at an advanced level, reads defenses exceptionally well, makes quick, intelligent decisions, can fit the ball into tight spaces and, when necessary, can escape trouble with his legs or gain yardage on designed runs. What are his weaknesses? Truthfully, it was difficult to spot any, though it did appear that at times he took off a little early instead of waiting in the pocket for a play to develop. But really, that's just nitpicking.

Despite not having an ideal frame, everything else about Voytik leads one to believe he can be a productive player in college.

This is someone I can't wait to see in person either this spring or fall.


Peach State loaded again

How do the state of Georgia recruits in 2012 compare to 2011? Stronger, weaker, deeper?

-Steve from Canton, Ga.

Early indications are the Peach State once again will have an excellent overall crop for 2012.

Before I give my opinion, here are some numbers:

According to UGASports.com, 186 players from the Class of 2011 in Georgia had signed with FBS programs as of Feb. 7. Already, 92 rising seniors from Georgia had FBS offers as of Wednesday evening. That's a pretty good number considering spring practice, which is when a whole lot of evaluating takes place, hasn't even arrived.

Here's something else to consider: In the previous recruiting cycle, the Georgia Bulldogs, who produced a stellar top-10 class, offered scholarships to 32 in-state players. To date, they've already offered 29 in-staters in the class of 2012, according to UGASports.com.

When you put these numbers together, it's pretty apparent the Peach State has another talented, deep group that will be loaded with three/four-star players. Will it surpass the 2011 class? In terms of overall talent, there is that possibility. But at the top, that won't be easy to do.

Remember, the 2011 Georgia class produced three five-star recruits - defensive ends Ray Drew and Stephon Tuitt and running back Isaiah Crowell. It remains to be seen how many, if any, the 2012 group will have.

Even if Georgia fails to produce a five-star prospect in this cycle, there are plenty of exceptional players. Jenkins County defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor, College Park Woodward Academy defensive end Jordan Watkins and Atlanta St. Pius X School cornerback Geno Smith, who have offer lists as impressive as anyone in the South, are a few who come to mind.

My gut says this class will be slightly better overall, but will lack the star power of its predecessor.


Rocky Top high in Georgia?

Which, if any, of the large number of defensive linemen from Georgia does Tennessee have a good shot with early in the recruiting process?

-Austin from Maryville, Tenn.

There are several, but I'll give you three to keep an eye on.

The first is Harris County defensive end Jordan Jenkins. The 6-foot-3, 245-pounder, who has offers from programs such as Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia and Georgia Tech, recently visited the Vols and gave the program high marks after returning home.

When I talked to Jenkins in January, he had Tennessee in his top six. At that time, however, he spoke about how much he liked Vols defensive line coach Chuck Smith, who would later leave the program. Apparently, Smith's recent departure hasn't changed the way Jenkins feels about Rocky Top. As recently as Monday, he said the Vols were still very much in the hunt.

Also, it appears Tennessee is in the running for the Jenkins County duo of defensive end James Deloach and Jonathan Taylor, who each told me recently they absolutely, positively plan on signing with the same school next year. The Vols have offered both.

There are some who think the two eventually will end up at Georgia, but former Jenkins County coach Chuck Conley, 54, who coached the pair for three seasons before recently losing his job, said this only last week: "In my opinion, if they had to make a call today where they'd sign, it would be either Tennessee or Georgia Tech."

Conley, who is serving as a mentor to the players, knows Tennessee coach Derek Dooley well and thinks highly of him. That, it would seem, certainly can't hurt the Vols, although the battle for these two standouts (Taylor arguably is the state's top prospect) won't be easily won.


About to take off

Name one player in the region whose stock you think is about to soar?

-Richard from Mobile, Ala.

I'll go with Fairhope (Ala.) School junior Kyron Samuels, a center prospect. After playing guard and tackle the past two seasons, Samuels is making the move to center in 2011. To date, he has only three offers, but the feeling here is that number will go up significantly this spring. At 6 feet 2, 296 pounds, Samuels has an ideal body for a center. And after talking to him a few days ago, it's pretty clear he's also intelligent enough to play the position.

Samuels' highlights are impressive. He's a low-to-the-ground, physical player who doesn't stop blocking until the whistle blows. If he can make a smooth transition to center, it's possible, if not likely, he'll pick up some Southeastern Conference offers by the time spring practice is through.



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