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September 6, 2011

Southeast mailbag: Position debate

MORE SE: Weekend wrap | Chat | Around the region

Which position should Josh Harvey-Clemons play in college?

What does Jameis Winston do best?

Why aren't Miami and North Carolina losing recruits?

And what type of player is Quay Evans?

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


Joshin' around

Which position is Josh Harvey-Clemons best suited for and what's the latest with his recruitment?

- Mike, Tallahassee, Fla.

Most people think the Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes senior, a Rivals100 prospect and U.S. Army All-American, will be an outside linebacker. Some even think receiver is a possibility. But after watching him play last week, if I were a college coach I'd seriously consider giving him a look at safety. That's the spot on defense where Harvey-Clemons spends most of his time right now, and he has been nothing short of excellent there.

Although he's 6-foot-5 and 208 pounds, he has no trouble whatsoever sticking with receivers and he covers an amazing amount of ground. The concern obviously would be that he might outgrow the position.

Harvey-Clemons wants to play linebacker. And that is where every program is recruiting him. He prefers being up on the line and closer to the action. Given his superior athleticism and frame, he should be able to make that transition provided he gains some weight. However, one has to wonder how he will do when he engages bigger and stronger players.

Regarding his recruitment, Harvey-Clemons has said he'll take officials to Florida, Georgia and LSU. The Gators and Bulldogs apparently are recruiting him the hardest. Harvey-Clemons claims to be open, but many believe Florida State is the team to beat, followed by Florida and Georgia. A commitment isn't expected until the Army All-American Bowl in January.


Dual threat

Is Jameis Winston a better thrower or runner?

- Carl, Mobile, Ala.

I went to watch Winston, the Hueytown, Ala., quarterback and Florida State commit, play two weeks ago fully expecting to see a runner who also could throw. Instead, I witnessed a player who not only is an excellent runner but a terrific passer. In fact, I'll go so far as to argue I think Winston is better throwing the ball than he is running it. That's saying something because this guy can really tote the football well.

What I love is that he's incredibly accurate. At the game I attended, Winston was 17 of 26 and six of his passes were perfectly thrown balls the receivers simply dropped. He made the touch throws. His mid-range passes were perfect. He threw into windows. He hit his guys in stride. He also showed the ability to make his progressions.

On one play in particular, I watched from the end zone as Winston first looked to one receiver, then spotted a second target downfield. Winston could see that player coming free before he actually eluded the defender. The ball arrived just as the player crossed the goal line, but was dropped.

In a nutshell, I love this kid's arm. Yes, he can really motor. But this isn't your ordinary dual-threat guy. Even if Winston were slow, he has a BCS-conference arm.


Holding pattern

Miami and North Carolina don't seem to have lost many, if any, commits despite their recent NCAA-related issues. Why is that?

- Davis, Columbia, S.C.

Although many prospects were shocked by the sudden dismissal of UNC coach Butch Davis and the bombshell Yahoo! Sports investigation regarding the Miami program, most of the ones I've talked to who either are committed to one of these programs or seriously considering them are taking the wait-and-see approach.

Does this mean the Tar Heels and Hurricanes will keep everyone on board in the coming months? It's too early to tell. Clearly, the severity of potential NCAA punishment will affect things, but right now most recruits seem content playing the waiting game.

Regardless of how things shake out, I think both teams will still get their share of players.

During the recruiting process, kids are sold largely on the program and the institution. So while Davis is gone, UNC will go on and the university is still among the most well-respected in the country. Likewise, despite the issues in Coral Gables, Miami is still Miami. In good times and bad, the Hurricanes have managed to produce NFL talent.

By the way, while we're on the subject, let's give the coaching staffs at both schools credit for holding things together.


Quay's way

What do you think about defensive tackle Quay Evans of Morton, Miss.?

- Cole, Oxford, Miss.

I think he's a beast. And that's a compliment.

First, I love his size (6-3, 300 pounds). From what I'm told Evans has really improved his body in the past year. When I saw him at Mississippi State's camp in July, he looked fit and moved well.

Unfortunately, he left camp early and didn't take part in one-on-ones, so I didn't get to see him in action. I also have yet to watch Evans play in person. However, one look at his film and it's obvious this is a major talent.

For a prospect his size, he moves very well, especially laterally. He makes great use of his hands to shed blockers and is explosive off the line or when changing direction. Even small scatbacks have trouble eluding him, which says a lot about his overall athleticism.

The knock on Evans (and this has come from multiple people) is that he sometimes takes a play off here or there. Moving forward, that is something he'll need to address.

The bottom line, though, is that this is a rock solid Rivals250 prospect.

Keith Niebuhr can be reached at kneebs01@aol.com. You can follow him on Twitter @KeithRIVALS.



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