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The Blitz: Gimme some Mauer
ESPN The Magazine

When you're the nation's most sought-after recruit, everyone wants to be your friend. But Minnesota prep QB Joe Mauer is enjoying a level of popularity few preps ever get to experience.

The strong-armed 6-4, 215-pounder -- also the nation's top catching prospect -- has been criss-crossing the country this month as he prepares to make the big decision. Two weeks ago, Mauer visited Arizona, where Cats baseball coach Jerry Stitt had some of Mauer's buddies from the U.S. junior national baseball team drop by for their official visits, too. Mauer liked that, and was impressed by new UA football coach John Mackovic. "It would be nice to go there because I already know so many people there," Mauer said.

Last week, Mauer flew down to Miami, where he said he was pleasantly surprised by the family atmosphere and the small classes on the UM campus. He also hit it off with his host, Ken Dorsey, who did a good job of selling the program. Incidentally, former Cane QB Steve Walsh, who also played at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, is a friend of Mauer's and has been pushing Miami too. In fact, Butch Davis' program might've gone from back in the pack to a frontrunner, but this weekend, the story may take another twist.

Mauer is headed to Tallahassee. Chris Weinke, another former Cretin-Derham Hall QB, has spoken with Mauer, too. "He told me he wasn't going to try and recruit me," Mauer said Tuesday night. "But I know he's been through similar baseball/football experiences so he's good to talk to."

Mauer says he plans to make an announcement a week after returning from FSU. As of now, he's still wide open. Hometown Minnesota is a factor, especially since Glen Mason is still in charge, and the Twins own the first pick in the baseball draft -- that could make turning the baseball-football double a little easier. A guess? No matter what he decides next week, Mauer will ultimately sign a rich baseball-only deal this June, with football always a backup a la Weinke, Quincy Carter and J.R. House.

Quick Slants

  • Still basking in the glory of its national title, Oklahoma got a major commitment from blue-chip DL Tommie Harris. The 6-3, 272-pound Texan picked the Sooners over UT and FSU, thanks in part to the efforts of OU assistant coach Jackie Shipp. "Great explosiveness and very athletic," says one recruiter who lost out. "He may not be a 'can't miss', but he has the head that makes you think you've got a kid than will compete for you all four years." Harris, along with Jammal Brown, a 6-7, 320-pound redshirt who had been unblockable at OU practices -- should make the Sooners' D-line much improved despite losing three seniors from its five-man rotation on the interior.

  • Speaking of Texas DTs, expect Dallas nose man Thomas Derricks to have a huge impact at Northwestern. The powerful 6-1, 282-pounder could play immediately, bolstering the 89th-ranked defense. Derricks, who surprised most experts by picking the Cats over Penn State and Notre Dame, actually was sold on NU for its renowned theater-arts program. "I really want to get into acting and my heart told me that was the right place for me," Derricks said Tuesday. Scouts rave about Derricks' determination and probably wouldn't be surprised to know that he has already dropped 20 lbs. to try and get in the best condition possible for his reporting date this summer.

  • Georgia Tech may have lost noted QB guru Ralph Friedgen, but the Yellow Jackets will have no shortage of quarterbacks this fall. Tech has commitments from three prep prospects, led by super sleeper Damarius Bilbo. When they arrive, Georgia Tech will have eight quarterbacks next season. The Jackets return senior George Godsey, redshirt sophs Andy Hall and Brian Camp and redshirt freshman Mark Logan. Tennessee transfer A.J. Suggs, who must sit out this season, will also be available for practices.

  • Huge pickup for Rutgers this week when rugged Davon Clark chose the Scarlet Knights over Penn State. The 6-2, 288-pound DT -- regarded by one East Coast recruiter as New Jersey's second-best defensive recruit (behind DE Thomas Carroll), wasn't even considering Rutgers till RB Rikki Cook committed to coach Greg Schiano on Dec. 18.

  • Utah got a verbal from JC blue-chipper Dominic Payne. The 6-4, 212-pound speed rusher from Eastern Arizona had drawn considerable interest from Florida State, but the Noles cooled after they learned Payne wouldn't be able to get to FSU till the summer.

    Bruce Feldman covers college football for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at

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