Thursday, March 19, 2009

the recruit: Hunter Steward

First, though, the daily dose of coaching search craziness. Tubby Smith is emerging as the clear front-runner per both Jeff White and the ACCSJ. The two snippets of interest:

“Nothing else will happen until we talk with Tubby, and he’s obviously busy right now,” one source close to the Virginia search said Thursday. “Obviously, in the meantime, there will be due diligence done on several other coaches.”
And the Smith side of things...

“Four years ago, (Smith) was in a place where he was happy to listen to other programs, especially a school like Virginia, where he already had a comfort level because of (athletic director Craig Littlepage),” a source close to Smith said. “Now he’s happy at Minnesota. I’m not saying he won’t listen, but he likes his current situation. He’s certainly not seeking out other jobs.”
There's no reason not to believe either one of these, frankly. Smith is already pretty well compensated at Minnesota and there isn't a lot more we can do there other than take those incentives he's getting and turn them into guarantees. And given Minnesota's previous level of success it's a safe bet Tubby has already achieved a few of those incentives. Tubby rebuffed us when he was coaching at a place where he wasn't at all appreciated; now he's treated like royalty. In the end I'm not convinced that dangling the chance to coach in the ACC is going to be enough to overcome the awkward timing of it. I think we'll have to eventually turn our attention to Jeff Capel, who is more likely to be lured away. (Rivals $ article.)

Also, a little early baseball bracketology for you. The baseball team remains undefeated after wins over the law firm of Marshall, Canisius, and Wagner, though that's a label they're not likely to keep after this weekend when powerhouse Miami visits. If we somehow do, hey, I hear Omaha's real nice in June. Well, let's put it this way - of the next four ACC series, three are against some powerhouses. We're currently 4-0 in the conference - if by Easter Sunday we're 11-5 with a winning record in that stretch (and Maryland is in there and eminently sweepable) then it'll be an improvement over last year and I'll feel very good about the state of things.

I couldn't let this go, by the way - Bobby Bowden sees that wins record slip-sliding away and is pissing and moaning about it.

''There are different degrees of doing something wrong,'' Bowden said, according to media reports in Florida. "You can go five miles over the speed limit. That's one thing. Or you can go 50 miles over the speed limit, and that's dangerous. ... It just seems like they're killing a flea with a hammer."
Shut up, sir. If you paid any attention to what your players were up to off the field for the past twenty years, you'd be damn familiar with the criminal justice system by now. When you've been caught five or six times going over the speed limit, they start to take away your license. Most people think the penalties were too light - the only ones that think otherwise are in Tallahassee. Whiny Criminoles make me sick.

OK - on to either the last holdover from the '09 football recruiting class or the first for 2010, depending, I think, on summer developments.

Name: Hunter Steward
Position: OT
Hometown: Virginia Beach
School: Kellam
Height: 6'7"
Weight: 300-something

ESPN: 74, #114 OT
Rivals: 5.2, two stars
Scout: two stars

Hunter Steward's first semester of United States schooling must have been really bad. Do you know how many 300-pound offensive tackles there are with the chops to play D-IA football? In 2009 there were about 80 or so. That's not even one per school. About 40 went to BCS programs - even less of a favorable ratio. (And we got three, which is pretty nice.)

So for schools to have been scared off by his grades - early on Steward was getting some looks from UNC and VT - says a lot. Partially that Steward's talents didn't quite measure up to oh say Morgan Moses, who would have been offered a football ride even if his head was filled with marbles and his SAT score was measured in fractions. But whatever Steward was getting was enough to make UNC stop bothering and Al Groh suggest he might benefit from military prep school. Not pretty.

But he righted the ship pretty quick, and I would be surprised if Dad, who moved the family to the States from Canada specifically so Hunter could play football on scholarship, didn't have a little bit to do with that. His grades are now good enough that he is likely to enroll in the fall with the rest of his class. Marshall, the only other I-A school to offer a scholarship, is probably wishing that hadn't happened.

Steward gets piddling grades from the scouting services in part because he didn't have a junior year, when a lot of this evaluation gets done. At least not one in the States. He played defense ($) up in the Great White North and not offense, but picked up on it quick enough to play both ends of the line.

Still, a redshirt year seems in order. His learning curve will be steeper since Canadian football has some nutty differences just to be different. Anyone who blots out the sun the way Steward does is going to get his shot in camp. But the numbers work against him this year. Too many entrenched starters and too many higher-rated guys in the class. Eventually he'll find his way out on the field - Al Groh has always looked to get the biggest linemen he can out there. It probably won't be for a couple years, though.

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