Thursday, January 22, 2009

the recruit: Javanti Sparrow

Long weekend for me this weekend. So no post until probably Monday night, unless maybe the Saturday basketball game makes me either angry enough or happy enough to fire off a quick one.

Name: Javanti Sparrow
Position: WR/S
Hometown: Chesapeake
School: Western Branch
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 190

ESPN: 78, #43 safety
Rivals: 5.3, two stars
Scout: three stars, #72 CB

I've been dreading writing this entry in the series. First off nobody really knows if Sparrow will be able to join the class, because his SAT score is not yet good enough to qualify and the latest score isn't out yet.

Second, holy moly do the scouting services not agree on whether he's any good. ESPN has him at a 78, which is roughly the equivalent of a low four-star on Rivals, only Rivals thinks he's a two-star, apparently disagreeing with ESPN's assessment of "a boatload of natural talent." When that happens, you check the offers, and literally every article lists a different set of offers both verbal and written. Rivals, normally what I consider the most reliable of scouting services, never updated the actual list even though they have all these articles talking about who'd offered him, and so you'd think UVA was Sparrow's only scholarship choice. Scout's list is equally unreliable: everybody offered. Florida included. Frankly, you'd think if a guy's offer list included Florida, Penn State, VT, and Clemson, he'd be more than a low three-star in their mind.

So I don't know what's what. Here's what's undeniable: Sparrow is an excellent athlete and very fast. He's got the speed of a track champion, and I can say that because he is one. The UVA coaches apparently told Sparrow he could have his pick of wide receiver or defensive back (Sparrow seems to prefer receiver), and that kind of uncertainty puts him right there in the same category with Laroy Reynolds, right down to the likelihood of playing on special teams, only Sparrow is probably more likely to get a shot returning kicks rather than covering them. Here's an article that says Sparrow is "very likely to play wide receiver" and in the same breath claims "it'll be interesting to see where Sparrow actually winds up on the field", which goes to show how much anyone really knows on that subject. I really doubt both he and Reynolds would end up at the same spot given the competition at both positions.

On video, Sparrow is a player who's tough to bring down in the open field, and always required (on highlights, anyway) multiple tacklers. He's got some elusiveness, but also a maddening overconfidence in that elusiveness, and in a couple of highlights appeared to give up what looked like a pretty favorable angle in favor of an attempt to juke a DB out of his shorts. This resulted in a gang-tackle when the rest of the defense caught up to him as he worked on deciding which way to go. Pet peeve of mine, really.

Ordinarily I'd suggest that the depth at Sparrow's positions means automatic redshirt, but it's no secret that we need someone dynamic to return kicks. Our kick return average was a really lame 71st in the country and the punt returning was positively awful. Ogletree handled a lot of the kick returns, and he's gone, so there's an opening, because Chase Minnifield did nothing to seize the job. If Sparrow can put some of that athleticism on display he could find a niche right away as a kick returner, and thus get his foot in the door for some early playing time elsewhere too.

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