Chat with Tom Luginbill
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN's lead recruiting expert Tom Luginbill stops by to chat about the new ESPN 150 for 2010.
Luginbill is the National Recruiting Director for ESPN's Scouts Inc. He has an extensive background in professional football talent evaluation and coaching. He played quarterback at Georgia Tech (1994) and Eastern Kentucky (1995).
Send your questions now and join Luginbill Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET!
Tom Luginbill (2:00 PM)
Hello, thanks for joining this ESPNU 150 chat today; it was our most challenging class to rank.
Tom Luginbill (2:01 PM)
As I have said before, ranking high school student-athletes is not an exact science but we feel we back up our rankings with extensive film work, in person scouting and full evaluations (point out strengths and weaknesses) while remaining objective.
Tom Luginbill (2:04 PM)
We've got a lot of questions today so let's get started.
Charles (Québec City, Canada)
Why is Chris Martin ranked so low, is it because he never played at DE or do you just think he is overrated on other rankings? Thanks.
Tom Luginbill (2:05 PM)
A lot of feedback on Martin. We do feel he will be a defensive end in college and that's a big adjustment in our eyes. We do not see the speed, hips or flexibility to play OLB.
Tom Luginbill (2:06 PM)
He is still in our 150 so we think he's a good player and like his physical measureables but felt he lacked the reactive burst, bend and potential pass rushing skills that the defensive ends ahead of him currently have.
Tom Luginbill (2:07 PM)
Remember, everyone disagreed with where we ranked lineman like William Campbell and Jamarkus McFarland initially over the last few years and that it seemed like the rest of the recruiting networks agreed with our assessment in the end.
Will (Austin, Texas)
Tom, why such a discrepancy between running back Lache Seastrunk's ranking compared to the other recruiting sites?
Tom Luginbill (2:08 PM)
Hey - we still have him ranked as a top-20 player in the county, thinking he'll be a productive back if he lands in the spread with his great speed, receiving skills and overall "space-player" attributes.
Tom Luginbill (2:09 PM)
We feel the other four backs currently rated higher than him are more well-rounded at this time in terms of squaring up and running with power between the tackles.
Charlie (Gainesville, FL)
Demar Dorsey is a guy that has taken some flack for not making enough plays on the field. What did you guys see in him to rank him 11th overall?
Tom Luginbill (2:11 PM)
Actually, we saw it all with Dorsey. 6-foot-1 safeties with cover-corner skills and elite speed don't come around too often. This kid is very scheme-versatile with striking closing speed and thought he made A LOT of big plays on film.
George (Chicago, IL)
What makes Mack Brown a more complete back than Lache Seastrunk?
Tom Luginbill (2:12 PM)
Mack Brown is very productive and explosive between the tackles. Not only does he have good outside and top-end speed, we thought he broke a lot more yards after contact than Seastrunk even though they are built similar.
Shawn (Dawson, PA)
Why do you guys think so lowly of Paul Jones? Saying he's the 32nd quarterback is a joke compare to some people you have ahead of him (especially within the state of PA). Did he egg your house or something Tom?
Tom Luginbill (2:14 PM)
LOL. I actually feel Jones will be a very good QB and could be a guy who moves up the rankings after we receive senior film. He has great physical tools to develop but really needs to refine his mechanics and footwork.
Tom Luginbill (2:15 PM)
We feel he is more of a developmental prospect than an immediate impact guy; similar to how we felt about Star Jackson a few years ago though most disagreed.
Hey Tom what are your thoughts on Dominque Easley Thanks So Much!
Tom Luginbill (2:16 PM)
We think this guy will be a very disruptive DL at the next level. Has great get-off, plays with good leverage and could be a valuable swingman - the guy who plays both inside and out along the defensive line.
Are there any kids playing in the Under Armor game that did not make the ESPN 150?
Tom Luginbill (2:17 PM)
Yes, actually a handful.
I'm confused why Dior Mathis is rated so highly.
Tom Luginbill (2:18 PM)
While he lacks ideal size measureables we feel Mathis has great feet and hips, natural awareness skills at the position and will make a great cover-corner at the next level.
Tom, like the new star ratings but why does there seem to be so many good players that are listed as 3 stars.
Tom Luginbill (2:20 PM)
Don't just look at the stars look at the grade within the stars. There a lot of 79 graded players who are close to achieving that fourth star. Keeping the grades along with the stars allows you to see where the player falls within his star spectrum.
Bobby (Starke, FL)
How special can this secondary group be for the Gators? Dowling, Elam, Dorsey and Watkins is scary!
Tom Luginbill (2:22 PM)
This could be a GREAT secondary if the Gators sign all four prospects. We touched on Dorsey earlier. Dowling is another five-star prospect we feel has an excellent blend of size, speed, range and ball-skills.
Tom Luginbill (2:23 PM)
Elam and Watkins are two more very talented DB's and overall athletes. May take them a bit more time to develop their position specific skill set.
How close was Silas Redd to making the espn 150. He has been tearing up every camp he has been at including being named MVP at Top Gun over Seastrunk
Tom Luginbill (2:24 PM)
We really like Redd, a very well-rounded back. He will be one of the prospects featured in an article on notable four-star prospects just outside the 150.
Hey Tom, question on versatility. Does the "Athlete" tag as opposed to a specific position help raise or lower the ranking of of a recruit. For example, DJ Morgan or Tony Jefferson.
Tom Luginbill (2:26 PM)
It depends on the prospect but for the most part we look at scheme-versatility as a positive. After being impressed with D.J. Morgan's great multi-purpose skills on film in our last evaluation session, we felt he also displayed the hips and foot quickness sought after in a cover corner and slid him over to the ATH category.
Tom Luginbill (2:28 PM)
Tony Jefferson is one of the most explosive defenders in this class but is a 'tweener safety / outside linebacker at his size (hence the ATH label). He could be an impact player at either position depending on the scheme he lands in.
What separates Jackson Jeffcoat from Roland Powell as a defensive end prospect?
Tom Luginbill (2:30 PM)
Powell's athleticism at his size is off the charts but we feel Jeffcoat will enter college with prototypical physical measureables and matching technique. Right now he is ahead of the curve over Powell in that regard and most defensive ends we have seen in the last few classes. Jeffcoat's a real technician which is often underestimated.
Tony (Ocala, FL)
I know the team rankings will probably come out sometime later, but who would be your top few teams right now?
Tom Luginbill (2:32 PM)
Our initial rankings are scheduled to come out on Friday. Florida, Georgia and as usual in the early going, Texas, have put together outstanding classes.
Could you name some players that you believe could improve in the rankings with a good senior season?
Tom Luginbill (2:33 PM)
I will give you one - RB Dontae Williams out of Texas. Injuries limited his production last season but he's an explosive back who could move up our rankings with a breakout senior season. Has a lot of physical tools sought after from a featured back at the next level.
Would Jordan Hicks ranking drop if he committed to Ohio State?
Tom Luginbill (2:35 PM)
Absolutely not - while some prospects are better fits for the schools the choose than others from a scheme standpoint, we do not take the commitment school into account when doing our rankings. We feel Hicks is one of the best linebackers to come out of the Midwest in a long time.
Dane (Corona, CA)
Jake Heaps was given very high ratings in mechanics and fundamentals, and at the Elite 11 camp they said he had the highest football IQ and was the best vocal leader. He seems to be ahead of his peers right now but is ranked 6th among QB's. How much of these ratings are based on potential and how much is based on how developed the player is right now?
Tom Luginbill (2:37 PM)
Great question Dane. We feel Heaps is VERY polished in his reads, mechanics and overall fundamentals but may be similar in four years to the QB he is today. Ceiling is not as high as others rated above him but do feel he will be very productive in BYU's offense.
Seth (Gainesville, FL)
How does this class rank overall against others? I noticed no player ranked in the 90s. Is it a down year?
Tom Luginbill (2:40 PM)
In terms of upper-tier elite talent, this class is lacking, particularly at a position like QB. It does have good mid-range quality and sometimes those players can develop into great players at the next level. Also, don't forgot that some players can shoot up the rankings during the high school and all-star seasons.
when you watch the tape does the state the guys play in affect the rankings. say a kid from iowa compared to guys playing in texas or flordia?
Tom Luginbill (2:42 PM)
Not necessarily just the state, the level of competition a prospect faces on film does come into play. Of course there are some states with a higher quality of high school football than others.
chad williams (clanton, alabama)
what do you think makes WR Antonio Goodwin a special player?
Tom Luginbill (2:43 PM)
We feel Goodwin may possess the best pure play-speed and explosiveness out of any skill player in this class. He will need some positional polish whether he stays at WR or moves to CB but feel be brings game-changing speed to the table that you simply can't coach.
Hey Tom what are your thoughts on Shariff Floyd Thanks So Much!
Tom Luginbill (2:46 PM)
A lot of questions of Floyd with regard to his ranking. A massive kid with very impressive physical measureables but the five other DT's ranked ahead of him are more progressed in hand technique and overall positional polish. He's a guy who potentially may get a look on the offensive side of the ball as well.
Hey Tom do you feel any pressure from other sites like Rivals or Scout cause if you look at the Rivals 250 or Scout 300 and then look at the espn 150 there are some things to question?
Tom Luginbill (2:48 PM)
We have said before that it is not an exact science and there are so many variables when projecting 16-18 year old kids but we feel confident in our abilities based on years of experience playing, coaching and scouting the game.
Tom Luginbill (2:49 PM)
Outside rankings, national hype, the school a prospect commitments to, etc. do not factor in our evaluations process.
I would like to know why the staff rated Robert Bolden ahead of Devin Gardner considering the fact that Bolden doesn't have near the stats or production on the field that Gardner does?
Tom Luginbill (2:51 PM)
Seems like there are a lot of questions on Gardner today and the first thing I'll tell you is we saw a ton of upside when we watched him during the final evaluation process before the 150.
Tom Luginbill (2:52 PM)
We simply feel Bolden is further along mechanically and has a better release at this point. Bolden does not have the luxury of being in the same spread high school offense as Gardner.
From what I have heard, Kyle Prater has been the top player at every camp he attends. Why do you have him ranked at 43?
Tom Luginbill (2:54 PM)
We have seen Prater both on film and in person. Physically he is very impressive and may have some of the better red-zone / jumpball skills in this class but we question his speed / initial burst and ability to separate out of his breaks as an intermediate route runner and after the catch at the next level.
Tim (Lawrence, Kansas)
Tom- A couple of things. One is how in the world is Justin McCay ranked 143? He is easily a top 15 player, and clearly ever football program in America sees it that way. Also, how is there not ONE Kansas commit or really prospect (minus McCay) on the 150? Color me confused.
Tom Luginbill (2:56 PM)
Remember, by his ranking, we consider him a good player. One thing that struck us was his inconsistency on film and skill set that did not match his impressive physical measureables.
Craig G. (Fairfield, CA)
Hey Tom, how much do you take on-field performance into account compared to physical measurements when doing your rankings?
Tom Luginbill (2:59 PM)
Its a balancing act - the best players have both. One thing I will say is that we look for production on film first; the eye in the sky does not lie. Combine measureables can open your eye to a prospect and assist his play but we think there is a real difference between running a 40 or beating a lineman during 1-on-1 drills in shorts than actually doing it on the field on the consistent basis.
Tim B (L.A.)
I like the new star ratings, what guys do you see making a push for a 5th star.
Tom Luginbill (3:00 PM)
Thanks Tim. We feel the addition of stars will make our rankings a bit more fan-friendly. I'll give you two potential five-stars, one of both sides of the ball. WR Chris Dunkley and Texas commit DT Taylor Bible.
Tom Luginbill (3:02 PM)
Thanks for the great questions today recruiting fans. I have to go do some radio and prepare for the ESPNU 150 release show airing tonight at 7 PM EST on ESPNU.