Gator Country interviews Scott Kennedy

For Scott Kennedy, seeing is believing. He hears all the stories about kids who run supersonic 40-yard dashes and how certain 6-6, 300-pounders run like a deer. Hearing is one thing. Seeing it in person. That's what sells Kennedy.

"We hear all kinds of things," said Kennedy Friday afternoon as he was waiting to board a plane for Atlanta. "We just don't rely on things we've heard anymore. If someone asks me about a kid, I will tell you what I've seen, not what I have heard. I will tell you ‘I've heard some good things' but I won't be able to give you an honest evaluation until I've actually seen the kid."

To those who ask how The Insiders determines its rankings of high school athletes, this is how the rating process begins.

"It used to be we rated kids based on who was being offered and if a kid was offered by FSU, Miami and Florida, for instance, he would get four stars," he said. "Now we make sure that we know first hand if a kid can play or not. Let's face it, some kids get offered scholarships for something other than their talent. You can have a kid with five star talent who has no grades. He's not going to get an offer. You can have a kid who is a three star talent who has grades. He'll get a scholarship. So it's an entire process that goes into the rating system, but it begins for us these days with what we see.

"We want to rate kids on what we see and what we know for sure, not just something that we hear. I think that makes us a better service, and I think it makes the people who subscribe to our service better informed. We really do try to do a better job and I think we're doing it."

Since he's spent almost the entire month of May on the road scouting, I posed ten questions to Scott about recruiting and the class of 2005.

FB: You are going to combines and spring practices every day during the month of May. From your observations, is the Class of 2005 going to be a recruiting bonanza or is this going to be a year where there are not as many blue chip prospects as in years past?

SK: From what I have seen this year, I don't think the south is as stocked with talent as it has been the past two years. There are certain positions like OL and LB that are as deep as any year, but across the board, the Class of 2005 doesn't look as deep to me as the past two classes in the south.

FB: What do you predict will be the positions that have the most blue chip prospects for 2005?

SK: I touched on this a little before, but I think the two deepest positions in the south are going to be offensive line and linebacker.

FB: Having talked to so many coaches, both college and high school, is there one high school program out there that we should watch because it has an extraordinary number of prospects?
SK: LaGrange High School in Georgia has several big time guys. Saint Augustine in Louisiana is a school that is loaded too. Down in Florida, Edgewater lost some talent, but it has several top guys coming back. Mainland is a team to watch as well. There are always teams in Miami that are loaded, and Northwestern is a team to keep an eye on.

FB: Who do you see as the top five prospects in the south for 2005?
SK: I'm working on my rankings this week, and I would say that these are some guys in contention: Tray Blackmon, Ryan Perrilloux, Antone Smith, Fred Rouse, Michael Oher, LeMarcus Coker, and Avery Atkins.

FB: Will this be a great year for the state of Florida, or will Georgia or some other state really have the best and the most outstanding athletes in the fall?
SK: There are good players in every state, but Florida has more players than twice the next state (Georgia). By sheer numbers, Florida is always going to have the most good players. One state that is surprising though, is Tennessee. Tennessee will have four players on my All South team this year. That is astounding considering there are about 10% of the total number of Division 1 signees that Florida will have.

FB: Are there a couple of prospects out there that we don't know about --- kids who have worked hard and perhaps gone through a growth spurt since the 2003 high school season --- who we can look for to burst onto the scene this fall?
SK: One of the kids that impressed me the most at TheInsiders/MSL Combine this year was Eric Sledge of Apopka. This will be his first year at wide receiver, and I think he has a chance to be big time.

FB: Can we expect Dade County to have its usual number of outstanding prospects?
Yes. Miami is a haven for raw talent.

FB: What would you rate as the five areas in the sun belt for outstanding high school football prospects?
SK: Top 5 from California to Virginia? I'm not sure I'm qualified to make that guess, but here are the ones in the deep south... Miami/Dade... Jacksonville .. Atlanta... New Orleans ... Memphis.

FB: Rate the top 5-7 states for quality of high school football?
SK: The top five  in the country for the # of division 1 prospects they sign is... 1. Texas 2. California 3. Florida, 4. Georgia 5. Ohio.

FB: Why do you think high school football in Florida is so much better than just about every other place in the country?
SK: Population is a big key, plus the kids are active 12 months a year in outdoor sports. The more kids there are playing sports, the more athletes coaches have to choose from.

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