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College football

Bucs good training for recruiting guru

By KEITH NIEBUHR, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 4, 2003

He's a Boca Ciega graduate, South Florida alum and lifelong Buccaneers supporter.

He's also one of the country's most well-known recruiting gurus.

Meet Jamie Newberg.

The 35-year-old St. Petersburg native, who lives in Atlanta, is the national recruiting analyst for Theinsiders.com. He also works for Fox Sports.

"I grew up a huge Bucs fan," Newberg said. "For a long time, all we had to look forward to was the NFL draft. And the draft and recruiting are a lot alike."

As an intern at Turner Sports in 1992 Newberg began working as a production assistant on the network's recruiting show. He worked his way up and in 1996 created Border Wars, a magazine, Web site and 900 phone service devoted to recruiting that he still owns.

"I love doing this," Newberg said.

REAVES MAKES CALL: Plant quarterback Stephen Reaves, after considering Auburn, Louisville, Southern Cal, South Florida and Wake Forest, has committed to Michigan State, rivals100.com reports. Reaves visited Southern Cal over the weekend, but it is not known if the Trojans offered a scholarship. Repeated efforts to reach Reaves on Monday were unsuccessful.

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound left-hander was a Times second-team All-Hillsborough County selection.

ANDRE THE GIANT: Jefferson receiver Andre Caldwell, the Times' No. 6 national prospect, will make his announcement 6 p.m. Wednesday live on ESPN's SportsCenter. His favorites are Florida, Florida State and Miami. Caldwell is one of the area's most highly regarded prospects in years.

"We played against them in the second round of the playoffs and he's the best I've seen in 20 years of coaching," Lakewood coach Brian Bruch said. "He makes things happen. He's incredibly fast. He just slithers through openings. We thought we had a pretty fast secondary until we saw him."

SWITCHEROO: UF got big news Monday when Jacksonville Mandarin defensive lineman Marcus Thomas (6 feet 3, 280 pounds), No. 10 on the Times' Blue Chip list for Florida and a SuperPrep All-American, took back his commitment to FSU and pledged to Gators coach Ron Zook.

"I was excited about Florida State when I first committed there, and even after I visited Florida I was still thinking I'd sign with Florida State," Thomas told the Florida Times-Union. "But there is definitely a better chance to play early at Florida. There was a lot of pressure and everything, people saying FSU this and FSU that, but in the end I just had to pray and make a decision for myself."

Theinsiders.com rates Thomas as the nation's fifth-best defensive tackle.

"That's huge, unbelievably huge," Newberg said of UF getting Thomas. "Recruiting isn't about getting all the glamor guys. It's about filling needs and getting lineman. Florida's big huge need is at (defensive tackle) and it's all coming together."

Mandarin coach Richard Burnoski said Thomas considered waiting until signing day to announce his decision but thought it would be more fair to tell the Seminoles as soon as possible.

THREE-WAY BATTLE?: Wharton linebacker Larry Edwards, No. 2 on the Times' Best of Tampa Bay list, says he is committed to North Carolina but hasn't made a final decision. He's also looking at UF and LSU.

"It's a lot to keep on your mind at night," Edwards said.

Look for an announcement Wednesday.

ODDS AND ENDS: The vote for the best name of the 2003 recruiting class goes to Long Beach (Calif.) Poly offensive lineman Hercules Satele. He's committed to Hawaii. ... Jefferson tight end Jamesley Jean, high on many national lists and the Times' No. 17 Tampa Bay area prospect, will choose between Auburn and North Carolina State. He might not make his intentions known until Wednesday. ... Times Blue Chip prospect Joe Cohen, a defensive end/running back from Melbourne who was considering UF and FSU, has picked a school but isn't talking. Cohen will announce his decision Wednesday. He reportedly has promises from the Gators and Seminoles not to leak the news.

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