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Posts from January 2011

Tuesday's Daily Briefing: FAU recruiting is about mining, not polishing

Multiple times during the past couple weeks I've engaged in conversations about FAU's current recruiting class. All too frequently someone asked whether FAU coaches were getting “diamonds in the rough” or were simply not able to get good recruits at all.

I answered truthfully – and somewhat incorrectly.

In the explanation, I frequently referred to the absolutely bogus star system, telling the person I was talking with that the players FAU will sign are they players these coaches feel best fit their system. Looking back on it, I believe I might have left people believing that these new recruits were “diamonds in the rough.”

In fact, I don't believe that at all.

To slap the “diamond in the rough” tag on a player presupposes that the player who is about to sign really isn't particularly good. It assumes that FAU coaches believe they can take an inferior player and “coach him up,” polish him a bit and someday maybe turn him into an engagement ring.

That's a bit of a warped analysis regarding FAU coaches' beliefs and the process.

FAU coaches are first and foremost looking for talent. Since FAU isn't high profile enough to win battles against the likes of Florida, Florida State and Miami, FAU coaches can't simply let the recruiting services do the scouting work, then set about trying to sign the guys with the most stars.

For FAU to be successful, the Owls need to find quality players that larger programs simply overlooked. To stick with the diamond metaphor, FAU isn't looking for flawed stones it can grind, rather the Owls are attempting to dig deeper to find gems of similar quality that other programs simply don't have the skill to or desire to locate.

Players like Hialeah-American defensive DJ Frye-Smith (photo) whose performance in the Dade-Broward All Star game earlier this month earned him recognition from ESPN.

Their success in that undertaking can be found in a couple of spots. First, answer this question: How many stars did Rusty Smith, Lester Jean, Jeff Van Camp and Rob Housler have when they signed?  None of them had more than two, yet Smith is in the NFL while the other three will be attending the NFL Scouting Combine.

Second, look at how frequently FAU finds itself in the position of fending off larger programs trying to poach recruits from the Owls' class. Case in point – when I talked with Miami Central coach Telly Lockette on Monday, he told me USC was on his campus last week looking at some FAU commits. Lockette said the duo turned the Trojans (not the Gamecocks) away.

That example isn't merely anecdotal. Remember Pensacola's Sean Watson? He was committed to FAU in 2010 until Baylor swooped in the night before Signing Day to steal him. In recent weeks the Owls were in the lead for the services to Tampa-Plant defensive lineman Bobby Richardson until Indiana came knocking. As of Sunday night, FAU was battling Boise St. and TCU – two Top 10 programs – for Pasco County's Jamie Byrd. The Owls began recruiting Byrd in the spring. TCU didn't enter the picture until the past couple weeks.

By the time Signing Day ends tomorrow, FAU will likely have successfully defended somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 recruits. Six months from now the coaches will get their opportunity to “coach these players up.” Not all of them will become stars. Most of them, however, have the talent to play at programs much larger and with greater tradition than FAU.

The skill and effort required to identify these players should not be easily dismissed.

Owl Links

  • FAUOwlAccess.com

We kept the stories coming on FAU's recruiting with the inside scoop on Niceville OL Stephen Schoewe

  • Other linkage

The Sun-Sentinel says White had a bad game vs. WKU

 


 

Monday's Daily Briefing: Lozandier will be member of 2011 Signing Class

There are only two days until National Signing Day, but before we get there let's take a quick step back to last year.

Talked with former North Miami linebacker David Lozandier on Sunday. For those who don't  remember, the Class of 2010 FAU signee wasn't able to enroll in August because of academic issues. Lozandier re-took the ACT in the fall, achieving the required score, but was unable to enroll for the spring semester because of a different NCAA paperwork issue.

By the time that problem was resolved, it was too late for Lozandier (right, at Lockhart stadium this year) to enroll in the spring. At this point it looks like he'll officially be in Boca Raton for the first summer semester.

While waiting to enroll, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound safety worked diligently on improving an already-fast time in the 40-yard dash. In October Lozandier says he twice ran the distance in 4.39 seconds.

“He runs like he should play a DB or a wide receiver, but he hits like a linebacker,” said Darreyl Bethune, Lozandier's former coach at North Miami.

As a senior in high school, Lozandier recorded 91 tackles, including five sacks, playing mostly linebacker.

Along with increasing his speed, Lozandier also added bulk, increasing his bench to 325 pounds and squat to 575.

“My (high school) coaches keep on saying they think (FAU) is going to put me at linebacker because of the way I am progressing and keep gaining weight.”

Because he didn't enroll in January, Lozandier's scholarship will now be counted against the Owls' 2011 class, so we have added him to The List. That makes 23 commitments for the Owls, who are in the running for a couple more in the coming days.

McClain to JC: Unlike Lozandier, Jerome McClain was unable to overcome his academic issues. The Pensacola defensive lineman also attempted to enroll in January but couldn't satisfy the NCAA clearinghouse. McClain began attending Northwest Mississippi Junior College this semester.

 

Owl Links

  • FAUOwlAccess.com

Our Sunday recruiting story was on the Owls receiving a commitment from a kicker. ...We had a late afternoon blog entry after covering the awards banquet.

  • Other linkage

The Sun-Sentinel also had a list of the 2010 award winners 
 

News and notes from FAU's Football Banquet

The Florida Atlantic football team gathered one last time as a group on Sunday afternoon for the 10th annual FAU Post-season Banquet held at the Embassy Suites in Boca Raton.

The highlight of the day is always the well...the highlights. FAU football video coordinator Steve Cutcher  did his usual bang-up job putting together the top plays of the year. There were even some shots from FAUOwlAccess.com's Chuck King in this year's package, something we are quite proud of.

I talked to a few of the players about the offseason workouts  especially with new strength and conditioning coach Brian Remington taking over for Rod Payne. The workouts haven't been easy but the players feel they will be productive.

Running back Willie Floyd was on crutches as a result of recent knee surgery. Floyd is expected to be out for about nine months and is hoping the NCAA will grant him a sixth year of eligibility and he can participate in preseason training camp.

Floyd isn't the only player hoping to be granted an extra year of eligibility. Long snapper Tim Raber  Morgan Barnett is also petitioning to play next season.

And it's always a stiff competition to see which player will be the best dressed. The winner this year has to go to running back Damian Fortner for his "Red Zone" look. He is pictured above with some his supporters. Here's a link to some more photos from the banquet

But the biggest thing to come out of the annual banquet is always the awards.

Here are this year's winners...

  • Team MVP: QB Jeff Van Camp
  • Offensive MVP: WR Lester Jean
  • Defensive MVP: LB Malik Eugene
  • Special Team MVP: P Mickey Groody
  • Ramon Rickards Memorial Bone Award: LB Yourhighness Morgan
  • Most improved: OL Joe Bailey
  • Non-scholarship MVP: LS Tim Raber
  • Student Athlete Award: DB Marcus Bartels

 

 

 

Sunday’s Daily Briefing: Owls can't eclipse school-record winning streak from 1980s

On the last day of the fabulous decade that was the 1980s, the FAU basketball team lost a tough game to venerable South Carolina-Spartanburg to snap an eight-game winning streak.

The team was in its second season and surely would win eight consecutive games in the near future. The coaches and players probably spent the rest of that New Year’s Eve watching MTV or playing some Nintendo before getting back to work.
However it took more than 21 years for FAU to win that many games again. And just like against USC-Spartanburg, the Owls couldn’t win that ninth game.
All the snow outside The Burrow couldn’t cool off suddenly red-hot Western Kentucky as the Owls lost 57-53 on Saturday.
After the game players seemed to take the loss in stride, knowing that the season is far from over and the Owls had been on one of the best runs in school history.
If FAU is to put together a run to challenge the school winning streak again it will come with much higher stakes than that Dec. 31, 1989 game vs. USC-Spartanburg. With seven games remaining in the regular season, the Owls could win their ninth consecutive game in the semifinals of the Sun Belt Tournament in Hot Springs and would play for an NCAA bid the next night.
Owl Links
  • FAUOwlAccess.com
Complete coverage of the basketball game with video highlights, recap, analysis, photo gallery and much more can be found by clicking here. ..FAU’s recruiting efforts centered on landing a kicker this weekend. …The FAU women’s basketball team beat Western Kentucky for the first time in school history.
  • Other linkage
Here’s game coverage from the Palm Beach Post, the Sun-Sentinel, TCPalm.com and the Bowling Green Daily News
Saturday's Daily Briefing: Basketball's success aiding football recruiting

As noted in yesterday's recruiting update, there won't be many recruits on FAU's campus this weekend who will sign with the Owls on Wednesday. There will, however, be several dozen juniors on campus today who could be signees next year.

If FAU coaches want to impress these juniors, they should be sure to get them to tonight's basketball game against Western Kentucky.

Multiple recruits from last week's recruiting weekend cited the basketball game against Arkansas-Little Rock as one of the high points of their visit.

“It was real fun to actually go to a college basketball game,” Florida A&M High School linebacker Marcus Owens said.

That game, of course, was televised nationally, adding to the game's atmosphere. Tonight's game will be a little colder, with all that snow and all...

And the actual play of the basketball team wasn't lost on last week's football recruits.

“That was good basketball,” said Estero lineman Mohammad Farah, who had already committed to FAU prior to the visit. “They just came out hard and played.”

Last week's recruits were only able to see about 30 minutes of the game before heading to other scheduled activities. Those making unofficial visits today will be done with their program prior to tip-off, so they will be able to see the entire game should they choose.

If the game is anything like last week, it might be an eye-opening experience.


“It was crazy,” said Ft. Lauderdale-Dillard wide receiver William Dukes, who like Farah had committed before his visit.

“I've never been to a college basketball game. I didn't know the fans were like that. ...I'm going to go to some more games. I'm right down the street, so I can make any game.”

Owl Links

  • FAUOwlAccess.com

Three-sport day for us. The baseball team held its first full squad workout and we were there. ...We also previewed this weekend's recruiting strategy. ...We also had this preview for the basketball game

  • Other linkage

The Palm Beach Post looks into Mike Jarvis' comments on Thursday's attendance ... Here are previews from the Sun-Sentinel and the Bowling Green Daily News
 

Equipment manager Mike Short leaves FAU

FAU said goodbye today to one of the longest tenured members of its football program.

Equipment manager Mike Short is leaving FAU to work for Xenith, a company that produces football helmets designed to reduce the risk of concussions.

Shorty, as he was known at the Oxley Center, first started working with Howard Schnellenberger during the coach's years at Miami.

When Schnellenberger started the FAU program, Shorty was one of his first hires.

“He was well schooled in knowing the responsibilities of being an equipment manager for a Division I football team and the other sports that go with it,” Schnellenberger said. “I am very fond of him and respect him a lot, and I am just happy that he's found a new venture - one that could be very rewarding for him financially as well as with responsibilities.”

On Friday, FAU threw a little going away party for Shorty in the Founders Lounge, which is where the photo was taken.

We wish Shorty good luck and hope to see him make some guest appearances on the FAU sideline from time to time.

Friday's Daily Briefing: Jarvis tired of getting cold shoulder when it comes to promoting program

Florida Atlantic coach Mike Jarvis seemed to notice that the crowd at The Burrow for Thursday’s game between FAU and MTSU was a tad bit sparse.

There are more people in the stands this year than last year for midweek games, but one would have expected a larger crowd based on how well the team is playing.
Jarvis didn’t sound happy about that in the post-game press conference.
“It’s better, but it’s nowhere near where it has to be,” Jarvis said. “We are still not promoting this program the way it needs to be promoted. The students have done a great job, but our school, our university, our athletic department has got to do a better job promoting the program. We can’t be the best kept secret in Boca. We should have every middle school, every elementary school, youth league and there should be groups coming here in waves coming through here every night. I wouldn’t care if we were giving the tickets away because we could make money at the concession stand.”
A few days after FAU drew 2,343 for Saturday’s nationally televised game vs. UALR, the attendance for Thursday’s game was 1,186 – less than half of the attendance vs. the Trojans.
“This team at this time deserves more people in attendance and deserves for people to know that they are playing much better than is being done,” Jarvis said. “We have to step it up. I’m not satisfied with this. I want these kids to play in front of crowds like they played in front of Saturday.”      
Perhaps there could be a nice crowd on Saturday as winter – and Western Kentucky - comes to The Burrow.
15 tons of snow are being brought in for the game with the scheduled snowfall at 5 p.m. before the 7 p.m. game vs. the Hilltoppers.
Fans are encouraged to wear white and 1500 free White Out T-shirts will be given out.
Will a winter wonderland be enough? We’ll see, but Jarvis appears to be hot over this issue.
Owl Links
  • FAUOwlAccess.com
We had out total team coverage from The Burrow for the big game vs. MTSU. Check it all out by clicking here. …We also had recruiting covered with another daily report.
  • Other linkage
Basketball game stories from Sun-Sentinel, Palm Beach Post and TCPalm.com
Thursday’s Daily Briefing: Former FAU star Paul Graham likes what he sees from this year’s team

The FAU basketball team had an unexpected visitor at practice this week.

Former Owl guard Paul Graham was at The Burrow and spoke to the team about the pride he felt in their recent success.
“They are looking good and I’m proud of them – I’m proud of my school,” Graham said.
Graham’s last year was the first year for coach Mike Jarvis and the program has certainly come far from that 6-26 season.
“I knew they were going to start picking it up because they have so much talent,” Graham said. “I just wish I was here to play with them.”
Graham, who holds the school’s single-season scoring record, was in Boca Raton getting ready to play this summer in Puerto Rico and also recently had a workout with the 76ers, and was sporting a nifty Philadelphia T-shirt.
“It’s a very good league and very competitive,” Graham said.
 
Owl Links
  • FAUOwlAccess.com
As we count down the days to National Signing Day, FAUOwlAccess.com provides another look at how the class is shaping up. ...Don't miss our preview of tonight's basketball game between MTSU and FAU.
  • Other linkage
The Murfreesboro Daily News-Journal looks at Blue Raiders transfers. ...The Sun-Sentinel says FAU is on the right track. ...TCPalm.com looks at FAU's recruiting efforts
Wednesday's Daily Brifing: FAU's class gets better without adding another commitment

Florida Atlantic’s oh-so-important national ranking of its recruiting class took a big step forward this week.

And the Owls did it without landing another commitment.
The Owls recruiting class took a quantum leap when Navarre quarterback Colton Kane went from not having any stars last week, to becoming a three-star player this week according to Rivals.
Congratulations to Kane, whose commitment to FAU was first reported here on FAUOwlAccess.com last week. Kane obviously is improving in the off-season.
OK, enough sarcasm. This is why the star-system is at best flawed and at worst just plain wrong.
I’ve seen where the national services rank FAU’s recruiting class and the coaches could care less. They pride themselves finding players no one knows about and work harder to find prospects who are below the radar.
Nothing wrong with that, but it does preclude the Owls from bringing in players who rack up stars on the national sites.
I can’t tell the future and say all of the prospects will pan out. I’ll just defer to Howard Schnellenberger who has been evaluating talent for longer than most recruiting experts have been alive.
Owl Links
  • FAUOwlAccess.com
Check out our daily recruiting series on this Miami-Dade player who could be leaning to FAU. ...Winter Park point guard Brett Comer signs with FAU but asks for release before enrolling
  • Other linkage

The Lafayette Daily Advertiser weighs in on FAU's hoops success. ...The Sun-Sentinel finds fault with FAU's free-throw shooting.

Comer not coming to FAU after all after he asks for release

Winter Park guard Brett Comer, who committed to FAU as a junior and signed with the Owls in November, won’t be coming to Boca Raton after all.

In what would have to be called a surprise move, Comer has asked for and received his release from FAU, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Comer’s travel team coach told the Sentinel the guards FAU already have on the roster is a factor in the decision.
I really hate to hear this as we were able to follow Comer through his multiple TV appearances at Winter Park, one of the top teams in the nation, the last two seasons.
We wish Comer and his family the best, but will miss seeing him in an Owl uniform.
 
Tuesday's Daily Briefing: What having the best record in the Sun Belt means for FAU

A few hours after the party ended at The Burrow on Saturday, the news got even better for the FAU basketball team.

In Murfreesboro, Tenn. MTSU handed Denver its first Sun Belt Conference loss of the season. That’s significant because with the Pioneers going down, FAU is now the lone undefeated team in the conference.
Let me state the obvious, because it has a nice ring to it...FAU has the best conference record in the Sun Belt.
But, here is the bad news concerning having the best conference record – unlike in years past, it has no bearing in the Sun Belt Conference tournament. The format for the tournament was changed this season so that there essentially is no No. 1 overall seed and all teams are seeded based on their standing in their division, instead of in years past when teams were seeded Nos. 1-13 without regard to divisions. Just FAU's luck that this is the year the Sun Belt decides to emphasize divisions. Here is a look at the bracket layout.
Yes, having the best record in the conference does carry some clout, even though it's something the Owls don't necessarily want to take advantage of.
The team with the best conference record is guaranteed a spot in the NIT, which I guarantee no one in the offices of the west side of the lobby at The Burrow is thinking about right now. The Owls, of course, still have the goal making it to the NCAA tournament.
However if the Owls were to slip up at Hot Springs, the NIT would be a nice consolation prize.
Owl Links
  • FAUOwlAccess.com
We had another addition to our daily recruiting series, this one on Sebastian River WR Stephan Clark
  • Other linkage
TCPalm.com had this report on FAU's recent success. ...The Sun-Sentinel says FAU is at the top the Sun Belt standings
Monday's Daily Briefing: Quiet recruiting weekend somewhat by design

This weekend's recruiting visits weren't accompanied by the same explosive run of commitments as last weekend's for one reason: The Owls simply don't have that many spaces left to fill in their class.

FAU intends to max out at 25 signees. They entered the weekend with 22. do the math.

Of the 14 players on campus this past weekend three had already committed, like Estero's Mo Farrah (pictured). This story from Sunday tells of one player who entered the weekend as a commit only to see the offer rescinded because the Owls were too full at his position. Less than half of the remaining 11 players received offers this weekend.

Most heard something similar to what the FAU coaches told Hamilton County defensive back Anthony Ingram.

“They said they weren't going to be able to offer me until later this week,” Ingram said on Sunday.

It seems that FAU wants to see how a couple of those first weekend recruits who left without committing feel about FAU now. Let's look back at those guys from a moment.

Of the 20 Owls on campus two weekends ago, 15 committed, and apparently FAU coaches still believe they will convince one or two more to play in Boca Raton. With that closing rate, if FAU coaches were selling cars they'd have their photos hanging under the Salesmen of the Month sign.

Look for the Owls to add two to four more commitments in the coming days. Some might come from those first weekenders, after they return from their final visit to other schools. If those first weekenders make a decision that doesn't go FAU's way, look for the Owls to pluck a player or two from those on the waiting list from this most recent weekend.

Don't get me wrong. Howard Schnellenberger and crew would have loved to have the linebacker, defensive lineman, running back and defensive back who left Boca Raton on Sunday after asking for a little more time to mull over their decision commit on the spot. But it's likely one of two will end up signing with the Owls.

Of course, if the Owls still have holes, there is one final weekend prior to Signing Day on Feb. 2. But it looks like they may only have a spot or two remaining by Friday.

As always, we're here to keep FAU fans up-to-date on all the breaking recruiting news, so check FAUOwlAccess.com frequently.

Owl Links

  • FAUOwlAccess.com

Another day, another recruiting story. This one is on American Heritage OL Robby Nasiff, who has committed to the Owls.

  • Other linkage

The Sun Sentinel takes a look at this year's recruiting class


 

Sunday's Daily Briefing: Lockley's turn to make a statement

Later today we'll get back to stories about incoming FAU football players. For a moment, though, let's look at a couple of the outgoing guys.

Former linebacker Michael Lockley spent the week in Arizona practicing for the Eastham Energy College All-Star Game, which kicks-off from Tempe, Ariz.  at 7:30 p.m. today

Lockley has a simple but important goal to accomplish during his time in the desert.

“I just want to show them that I'm capable of playing football on all levels,” he told me before the trip. “I just want to go out there and dominate in all facets of being a linebacker.”

OK, the first part of that statement should be relatively simple. Lockley fared well this year when the Owls faced BCS teams, so there is no reason he can't at least hold his own. Dominate all facets? Well, this is the kind of event where Lockley has the potential to excel.

Athletically, Lockley is gifted. He's bound to impress the scouts during the individual drills, which from a scouting standpoint, is the most important part of the week. And since these games limit the offensive and defensive play selections, the game itself is about instincts. Lockley simply has to find the ball – something he did 120 times well for FAU this season.

“I'm just excited to go out there and play the game,” Lockley said. “I'm ready to go represent FAU well.”

Incidentally, one player who already represented the Owls well is former wide receiver Lester Jean. Don't pay much attention to his stats from Saturday's East-West Shrine Game – he didn't catch a pass - these events are all more about the week of practice heading up to the game.

As we told you in this space on Friday, Jean impressed many onlookers this week in Orlando. Making an impact as a receiver in one of the these games is much more difficult than doing so as a defensive player. There isn't much time to establish a rapport with the QB, and if he doesn't throw the ball your way, there's not much that can be done.

In any event, when we talked on Thursday, Jean said most of the NFL scouts had already skipped town.

Owl Links

  • FAUOwlAccess.com

We had complete coverage of Saturday's big day at The Burrow. Check out the recap, video highlights, analysis, blog, etc. by clicking here. ...We also had another installment of our daily recruiting series.

  • Other linkage

Here are game stories from Sun-Sentinel,  The Palm Beach Post and TCPalm.com


 

Florida Atlantic shines on national stage

I didn’t get a chance to see the ESPN2 broadcast of Saturday’s FAU-UALR game from The Burrow, but I imagine the shots I saw their crew filming of the tailgating action outside The Burrow looked pretty good.

Sometimes I think we take for granted that you can be outside underneath palm trees and a stubborn sun that came out for a few minutes on Saturday morning in January.
No matter, I imagine those pre-game scenes got a pretty good reaction from around the country, especially in places where outdoor activities are slightly limited this time of year.
The Burrow was indeed rocking as FAU put on a good show.
The TV cameras added to the crowd, no doubt, but the atmosphere was, well, like a real college basketball game. And the good news is that many of the fans who were at The Burrow will likely come back.
The players certainly hope so.
"The crowd was tremendous,” said FAU sophomore guard Ray Taylor. “I think I warmed-up the whole time with a big smile on my face. The energy was just terrific. ...That was like an extra 10 points, just knowing they were there with the signs and everything. It was a big lift and gave us momentum before the game even started.”
The Burrow wasn’t jam packed – there were plenty of empty seats, but it was a good crowd and a good atmosphere – and a good victory.
I get the feeling there could be many more of those in the future.
Saturday’s Daily Briefing: Lights, camera action at The Burrow

Move over Western Kentucky. Take a back seat South Alabama. Sorry Middle Tennessee.

I may be missing a team that has been the darling of ESPN when it comes to the few Sun Belt Conference games the World Wide Leader in Sports broadcasts each season.
This time, ESPN smartly picked an FAU home game to show to the nation by tapping today's tilt with UALR to show to the nation on ESPN2 – and it ain’t to showcase the Trojans.
No, it’s the play of the Owls that will bring the ESPN2 cameras to for an FAU game for the first time.
Consider that a testament to the job that coach Mike Jarvis has done with this program in three short years.
Today's game at 1 p.m. will be a “Blue Out” and should be fun.
If you can’t make it we will have coverage througout the day here at FAUOwlAccess.com
Owl Links
  • FAUOwlAccess.com
We continued our daily recruiting series with a look at Miami Pace linebacker Damian Parms. …Check out this preview of the game with our scouting reports for each team.
  • Other linkage
The Sun-Sentinel has this preview
Friday's Daily Briefing: Jean continues to impress at Shrine Game

A group of us were at Hooters on Monday for ESPN 760's FAU Sportspage featuring the Mike Jarvis radio show when we looked up at the TV and saw video from that day's East-West Shrine Game practice.


Inclement weather forced the practice indoors, forcing players to run through the workouts in a hotel ballroom.

The video prompted a race to say what what we all were thinking: Lester Jean should feel pretty comfortable.

After all, FAU has been known to hold practices and walk-throughs just about anywhere, including ballrooms.

“I want surprised at all,” Jean told me on Thursday. “I was like, this is Coach Schnellenberger. This is something he would do. There was not a question at all. It was easy to adapt.”

Jean (pictured, courtesy Ralph Notato, NDM) has done more than simply adapt. By most accounts, he's thrived. Here's what ESPN's Todd McShay observed:


"Jean stood out and surprised me the most. He is a big (6-2, 200 pounds), good-looking athlete. Jean is still developing into his body and needs to be more polished as a route-runner, but he has long arms, big strong hands and deceptive speed. He's a good athlete, and of all the wide receivers, he had the best morning."

“Somebody sent me a text and said that Todd McShay said I was the sleeper pick for this year,” Jean said. “I didn't even know he knew I existed.”

McShay expanded his thinking on Jean in a report that aired on SportsCenter. Follow this link, then click on the video to hear his comments. And, no, Jean didn't catch two touchdowns against Texas (Rob Housler did), but I'm sure Jean won't mind the publicity.

Jean said he's having a great time spending the week in Orlando. His helmet might be difficult to recognize during Saturday's game because he's been trading logo stickers with players from LSU, Michigan St. and Nebraska, among others.

The most memorable experience so far hasn't happened on the football field, though. It came when the players met with some of the children being treated in the Shriner's hospital.

“When we did that it was like a wake-up call – I realized that I am blessed.” Jean said. “What I do is a privilege. It is not a right I can take it for granted.”

Jean and the East receivers have been working with Detroit Lions wide receiver coach Shawn Jefferson.

“You are learning and you are showcasing at the same time,” Jean said. “He's teaching me little things that I should know and be ready to do if I do get next level.”

Kickoff for the East-West Shine will be Saturday at 4 p.m. The game will be televised on the NFL Network. Jean is one of four wide receivers on the East squad, so he should see plenty of playing time.

The receivers have been working in pairs and Jean expects each pair to rotate onto the field, alternating by series.

Owl Links

  • FAUOwlAccess.com

Our subscribers were the first to know that Navarre quarterback Colton Kane committed to FAU. Learn why he chose the Owls in this story. Also, FAU commit Javaris Giles, a running back from Port St. Lucie-Centennial, appeared as a guest on Owl Talk with Brian Rowitz. Have a listen.

 

  • Other linkage

The Sun-Sentinel says FAU president Mary Jane Saunders likes FAU basketball.

Thursday's Daily Briefing: FAU football has new strength and conditioning coach
Florida Atlantic football players have started their off-season workouts, but they are doing it under the watchful eye of a new strength and conditioning coach.
The new strength and conditioning coach for the football team is Brian Remington. Remington (pictured) takes over for Rod Payne, who is still the head strength and conditioning coach for the athletic department.
Remington currently handles the men’s basketball team as well and by all accounts has done a great job with those players. Remington also assisted Payne with the football program last season.
It hasn’t been determined yet which sports Payne will handle, Athletic Director Craig Angelos told FAUOwlAccess.com.
Upperclassmen on the football program will be going through workouts under their third strength and conditioning coach in three years, but Remington’s past experience with the team will likely make this a smooth transition.
It should be explained that in football circles, the role of the strength and conditioning coach can’t be overstated. NCAA rules prohibit all other coaches from being at off-season workouts. The strength coach, therefore, has control over the team from now until August, with the exception of spring practice.
With Remington, the Owls will be in good hands.
Owl Links 
  • FAUOwlAccess.com
We had two items of breaking news on Wednesday as we had the news of a commitment from a Broward County defensive lineman and a Treasure Coast offensive lineman, plus a commitment who won’t be coming to FAU.
  • Other linkage

The Palm Beach Post reports the stadium is helping recruiting efforts. ...Sun-Sentinel says the Owls are targeting wide receivers

Wednesday's Daily Briefing: Commitments unexpected - even to the players

After talking to about half of the 13 players who ended up committing during the past weekend, I started wondering whether some of the guys made their decision because of a snowball effect.

I began asking the guys whether they committed simply because everyone else was – that it was the thing to do. Nearly every one of them said that really wasn't a factor – that they were glad the other recruits also committed, but it wasn't a major reason they wanted to play at FAU.

Several of them, in fact, didn't decide they were going to give their verbal until the final moments of the weekend.

On Monday I saw Pasco wide receiver Hakeeme Ishmar's Facebook post and immediately asked if I could pass it on to FAU fans. He said yes, so here it is:



You know, it wasn't me that committed to FAU. I was just sitting there just listening to the head coach talk. I was gonna hold out an extra week to take other visits. But when I jumped up out my seat and said "I'm committing to FAU" like I said that wasn't me. It was the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Gave me the strength to find my new home, I guess that's where he wanted me to be :)



Delray Beach-American Heritage's Robby Nasiff (pictured) didn't attribute his decision to divine intervention, but he shared a similar story.

“A feeling came over me Sunday morning and I just made my decision,” said Nasiff, who chose the Owls over Navy.

The rationale showed by Ishmar and Nasiff, and echoed by several other players, bodes well for FAU. The fact that the players arrived at the decision by determining what is best for their individual futures reduces the chance that they will change their minds in the coming weeks.

As I've written before, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Owls lose one or two of the 20 commitments they currently have. That happens to every school, almost every year. It should be encouraging to FAU fans, though, that the current commitments didn't choose the Owls simply because everyone else was doing it.

Owl links: Articles of interest to FAU fans
In Tuesday's edition of our recruiting series, we looked at one of the newest FAU commitments – Hialeah-American's DJ Frye-Smith.

Tuesday's Daily Briefing: FAU needs more linebackers as Owls plan to use more 3-4

If it looks like FAU is recruiting plenty of linebackers, that’s because they may need the bodies.

Several recruits have been talking about the Owls changing to a 3-4 defense this season. It would make sense, since FAU used a 3-4 many times last season, especially late in the season.
When I talked to FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger about a possible change to a 3-4 last week, he stopped just short of saying the Owls would use a three-man front as its base defense, but did say FAU would be using it more than in the past.
“We already play a lot of three-man line,” Schnellenberger said. “We are going to play a three-man line and a four-man line. Yes, we will play a 3-4, but we also will play a 4-3. It depends on the down and distance, but you have to have both.”
I’m not sure what to make of that, but the proof that FAU fans will see the Owls line up with four linebackers patrolling the field more than before seems to be that so many linebackers – four to date – are being recruited.
The player I expect to see benefit from this the most is Martin Wright, currently a defensive end who would have a tough time getting reps in practice and in games, but when he moves to outside linebacker, could flourish.
Owl Links
  • FAUOwlAccess.com
The recruiting news keeps rolling in as the Owls landed their 19th and 20th commitments when a running back and a defensive lineman commited to play for the Owls.
  • Other linkage
FAU hires a fund-raiser, the Sun-Sentinel reports. …Here’s a story from the Ocala Star-Banner on linebacker Marcus Hagins.
Monday's Daily Briefing: Sunday was like a mini Signing Day

Those who have spent any time talking with me about recruiting know that Signing Day is one of my favorite assignments of the year.

When I worked for newspapers, Signing Day provided the opportunity to cover student athletes at their most exuberant emotional level - seeing their hard work pay off in a college scholarship. It's probably the most hectic day of the year, but well worth the work load.

Sunday had a similar feel to it. FAU pulled off what will likely be remembered as its best recruiting weekend in program history to date. The Owls secured commitments from 11 players, raising their total to 18. I talked with all 11 of the 12 new commits (a high school coach confirmed the other) and all. like Pasco tight end Hakeeme Ishmar (pictured) were excited to become Owls.

They cited fairly similar reasons for choosing FAU. They loved the idea of a new stadium. The current players and coaches made them feel like family. And for those who think Howard Schnellenberger lost his touch, the players who committed assured me he remains one of the program's biggest draws.

Especially in Miami. Seven of the Owls' 18 commits hail from Miami-Dade County, where the parents remember and the kids have heard about Schnellenberger creating The U.  (And while we're in Miami, the work of defensive ends coach Johnny Frost down there also shouldn't be overlooked, either. I wouldn't be surprised if the Owls pulled a couple more players from Miami  in the coming weeks.)

FAUOwlAccess.com subscribers were the first to learn about the weekend's commitments via a story, facebook posts and twitter updates. In several cases, our stories throughout the previous week told FAU fans to expect that a few of these guys would commit this weekend.

Those who really wanted to know what was happening with FAU recruiting knew first. We're proud of that.

In the upcoming days, we'll have even more information about each of these players who committed to FAU. Then, we'll get ready to go through this same exercise again on Sunday. Only two recruiting weekends left...

And, yes, I know that none of these commitments are official until the players sign their National Letter of Intent on Feb. 2. Truthfully, I expect that one or two of the 18 will end up signing somewhere else that day. I don't know of anyone in particular, it's simply the way the process usually plays out.

But don't let anyone use that rationale to insinuate this wasn't a monumental weekend for FAU. The buzz surrounding the Owls football program took a huge step forward. The proof can be heard in the voices of those ecstatic new commits.

Owl Links

  • FAUOwlAccess.com

As noted above, we followed all the recruiting action on Sunday. Here is the wrap-up.

  • Other linkage

The Palm Beach Post offered this story about Natasha Basma, a deaf tennis player for FAU. ...The Pensacola News-Journal wrote a story aboth the development of former Owl QB Jeff Van Camp.

 

Sunday's Daily Briefing: FAU record of eight consecutive victories is within reach

Florida Atlantic defeated Western Kentucky on Saturday and this year's team now has the longest streak since moving to Division I.

Well, what exactly is the program record for consecutive victories?
I went through the record book and found these streaks.
In the 1989-90 season, the second year of the program, the Owls won eight consecutive games, finishing with a 21-7 record while a member of Division II .
The next season the Owls won seven consecutive games.
FAU will need to beat UALR, and then Middle Tennessee and WKU again to set a new school record. The good news is those games are at home – and it could be pretty exciting for the team to set a program record at home.
Owl Links
  • FAUOwlAccess.com
With a big recruiting weekend underway we took a look at one of the Owls’ quarterback prospects. ..We also had coverage of FAU’s 73-63 victory at Western Kentucky.
  • Other linkage
Here’s the story on the Owls-Hilltoppers game from the Bowling Green Daily News. …The Sun-Sentinel had this report
Saturday's Daily Briefing: We're in the middle of a huge weekend for FAU football

Welcome to FAU football's most important non-game weekend.

A group of about 25 of FAU's highest priority recruits traveled to Boca Raton on Friday to begin their official visits. Three have them have already committed to FAU. Nearly all of them have already received offers from FAU. On Friday we published our list of more than 20 players expected to be making their visit.

Unlike other schools, FAU rarely brings in recruits for official visits during the season. Can you blame them? Would you want to go to FAU if you saw Lockhart Stadium? This weekend is the first time the Owls have brought a large group of players to campus this recruiting season. Let the salesmanship begin.

This year has been a bit different for the Owls. On The List, we have more than 60 high school players who've already received offers In the past, nearly every offer was made by Howard Schnellenberger during the player's visit.

FAU coaches added emphasis to early recruiting evaluations this year, and, as the seven commitments, including Ely linebacker Conard Johnson (pictured)  prior to this weekend show, it's paying dividends. Since most of the recruits on campus this weekend already have offers, these next couple days will be about closing the deal. The coach's ability to do that will likely determine the shape of the Owls' 2011 recruiting class.

After this weekend there will be two more recruiting weekends for the Owls before the Feb. 2 National Signing Day.

It should be remembered that even though the Owls like to get their top-priority recruits to Boca on the opening weekend, that doesn't necessarily mean those who attend the following weekends are valued less. I've talked with several players who were invited this weekend but already had other commitments.

As always, we'll continue to keep FAU fans up to date on all the important recruiting news. Right before he left for his visit to FAU I talked with a quarterback who will likely choose between the Owls and Memphis. Look for that story later today.

Owl links

  • FAUOwlAccess.com

We continued our series of recruiting stories by offering details as to why the Owls have been more successful in the earlier parts of this recruiting season. ...We also put together this preview of tonight's basketball game at Western Kentucky. The Owls are going for their first six-game winning streak since the program moved to Division I.

  • Other links

Here is the Sun Sentinel's game preview.
 

Friday’s Daily Briefing: Statistically speaking, FAU struggled in 2010

After Monday’s BCS Championship Game, the bowl season – and the 2010 season – is officially over.

Of course that also means the NCAA statistical rankings are final, so it’s a good time to look where the Owls finished in some of the major categories.
As expected, it’s not pretty on the offensive side.
The Owls ranked No. 107 among all FBS schools with 302.6 yards per game and in scoring, the ranking was even worse – No. 113 (that’s out of 120) – with 16.8 points per game.
On defense the news was a little better as the defense finished No. 85 by allowing 401.3 yrds per game and No. 79 by allowing 79.3 points per game. It should be mentioned the Owls were No. 29 in the nation (and led the Sun Belt) by allowing just 197.8 passing yards per game.
Individually, Lester Jean finished at No. 25 in the nation with 82.3 yards receiving per game and linebacker Michael Lockley (shown here after his blocked FG sealed a victory for the Owls) finished at No. 21 in the nation with 10 tackles per game.
The FAU player highest ranked in any category, however, was punter Mickey Groody, who finished No. 5 in the nation in punting with a 45.8 yard average.
The full breakdown of FAU’s statistical rankings can be found by clicking here.
Owl Links
  • FAUOwlAccess.com
We talked to a local linebacker in our daily recruiting series. …We also were monitoring the action in Murfreesboro, Tenn. where the basketball team defeated Middle Tennessee.
  • Other linkage
The Murfreesboro Daily News-Journal covered the FAU-MTSU game. …The Sun-Sentinel also provided this report.
  
Thursday’s Daily Briefing: Switching to spread wouldn't help Owls

Our old friend Ted Hutton of the Sun-Sentinel posted a blog on Wednesday that raised an interesting question.

In the entry titled Time for FAU’s offense to join the modern era? Hutton asks if FAU should abandon its base “pro-style” offense in favor of the spread offense that is so prevalent today.
Hutton doesn’t necessarily give an answer himself, but plenty of others do and since the question was raised, I guess it’s fair game for yours truly to chime in.
While trying to figure out the problems from last year, the offense would certainly top the list. However, for FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger to junk the pro-style offense after a lackluster season would be quite the knee-jerk reaction.
There is no denying FAU’s offense struggled last season behind an offensive line which returned no starters. That would have been a problem with a team that runs the spread, pro-style or the Notre Dame box.
Perhaps those salivating over the spread forgot when that FAU stuffy, conservative offense had the 15th best offense in the nation with 432 yards per game in 2009. That’s not going back to the days of leather helmets – that was two years ago - and it shows the pro-style can be effective with the right personnel.
Could FAU benefit from speed available in South Florida at receiver, if it employed a spread attack? Yes, but the Owls already line-up two receivers in the current offense and it’s still primarily a passing offense that gets receivers involved so it’s not like Schnellenberger is turning his back on speedy receivers.
Some of the advantages of having the pro-style offense are that it emphasizes tight ends and fullbacks and since plenty of  teams at FAU’s level run the spread, FAU has been able to recruit quality tight ends (Anthony Crissinger-Hill, Jason Harmon, Rob Housler, who is pictured - courtesy Ralph Notaro) and fullbacks (Alfred Morris, Willie Rose, Xavier Stinson) that spread teams shied away from because those players didn’t fit their system.
And then there is the pro-style quarterback that Schnellenberger looks for. Again, the Owls were a perfect fit for Rusty Smith and Jeff Van Camp. FAU could have had trouble landing a spread quarterback because so many schools run that offense.
It’s an interesting question and I’m sure everybody has an opinion (or at least it looks that way), but it seems to me that changing FAU’s offense after a bad year, would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Owl Links
 
  • FAUOwlAccess.com
We continued our daily recruiting series with a look at a Treasure Coast lineman committed to another school, but is considering FAU after that school had coaching staff changes. …We had the latest episode of our podcast, Owl Talk with Brian Rowitz, which includes an interview with Pompano-Ely linebacker Conard Johnson who committed to FAU …Check out our preview of tonight’s basketball game at MTSU.
  • Other linkage
The Sun-Sentinel had a preview of the game vs. MTSU.
 
  

 

Wednesday's Daily Briefing: FAU PA announcer reaches milestone

Many Owl fans who attend FAU football or baseball games would recognize the voice of Jeff Winter immediately. Winter has been the public address announcer for the FAU football and baseball teams for many years and tonight will announce his 1,000th game.

Winter doesn’t do the PA at The Burrow so instead it will be at Lynn University where Winter will reach the milestone for tonight’s game between Lynn and Rollins.

Winter, an FAU alum, has been announcing for 14 years and has also called events at Central Florida, the PGA Champions Tour, and Isle Casino and Racing at Pompano Park.

Some of Owl fans may have difficulty placing Winter’s voice, but to me,that’s why he is so good.

Winter doesn’t have a lot of gimmicks and plays it pretty straight for the most part when he’s doing PA, but to me that’s the job of the announcer. I don’t need talking during the action or yelling into the microphone. At the games, the players are the stars – not the PA guy.

Owl Links

  • FAUOwlAccess.com

In our daily FAU football recruiting series, we looked at linebacker from the central part of the state who is considering an offer from the Owls. ...We also had full coverage of FAU’s 57-50 victory over Manhattan including video of Brett Royster setting the new Sun Belt record for blocked shots in a career.

  • Other linkage

The Sun-Sentinel had this report on the victory over Manhattan.
 

Here’s the story behind one of the best FAU hoops photos you’ll see

Had a few people tell me they liked the photo from our preview of the FAU-Manhattan basketball game.
Fans may remember the closing seconds of Saturday’s game against Arkansas State. With FAU leading 59-57 Gantt stole the ball and passed it to Ray Taylor who scored on a lay-up to ice the game.
Well, Gantt wasn’t the only person in perfect position on the last play.  
The photo was taken by JC Ridley, a good friend of FAUOwlAccess.com, who had a camera mounted behind the backboard to get a great shot of Taylor’s lay-up.
Ridley, along with another good friend Ralph Notaro, is one of the official team photographers for FAU and has many of his photos available at OwlPix, including some historical photos dating back to the early days of the program.
Browse through them and I’m sure you’ll enjoy. I'm fond of this one when FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger adressed the media on FAU's first National Signing Day in 2000 including a certain young reporter (blush!) from The Boca Raton News.

 

Tuesday’s Daily Briefing: FAU will face a national champion for first time when Owls go to Auburn in 2011

Auburn’s 22-19 win over Oregon on Monday in the BCS Championship game means Florida Atlantic will face a defending National Champion for the first time on Sept. 24, 2011 when the Owls play the Tigers in Auburn, Ala.

Will the Owls have a chance in this game? Well, considering it’s nearly certain that Auburn’s quarterback Cam Newton, the Heisman Trophy winner, will decide to go pro, the Tigers will be defending the national title with a major change to the team. Another aspect to watch will be the annual run at assistant coaches on the team that wins the championship. If Auburn is hit hard by the loss of coordinators and assistant coaches, who knows what could happen?
However, I will state for the record Auburn will still be a huge favorite in the game – and rightfully so.
Speaking of Auburn, I will guess that the last play of the game – a game-winning 19-yard field goal by Wes Byrum, was watched closely by some players on last season’s FAU’s special teams unit.
Don’t forget that kicker Ross Gornall transferred from Auburn after spending a year at Auburn as a redshirt freshman. I found his bio when he was on the team and you can see it by clicking here. With a few twists of fate, that could have been Gornall lining up for that important kick instead of Byrum.
Speaking of Byrum, another FAU player who was watching the final kick with interest would have been FAU punter Mickey Groody.
Groody, who was named to the College Football News All-American team as an Honorable Mention on Monday, was a high school teammate of Byrum at St. Thomas Aquinas High School.
Owl Links
  • FAUOwlAccess.com
We continued our Daily Recruiting Updates with a big-time high school program that has plenty of players interested in FAU. ...We also had a preview of today’s basketball game vs. Manhattan.
  • Other linkage
The Sun-Sentinel says Kore White's stats are improving.
 
 

 

Monday’s Daily Briefing: Jarvis radio show debuts tonight on ESPN 760

The FAU SportsPage featuring Owls coach Mike Jarvis returns to the airwaves tonight at 6 p.m. on ESPN 760 and can also be heard on ESPN760.com and FAUSports.com.

The show will air each Monday night during basketball season and it couldn’t debut at a better time with the Owls off to a 4-0 start in Sun Belt Conference play.
The show originates from the Boca Raton Hooters and was always lively with plenty of FAU fans in attendance for the football version of the show. Food and drink specials will be available including the Coach Jarvis chicken sandwich for $5.99. Who can resist that?
Chuck and I  hope to see you there.

Owl Links

  • FAUOwlAccess.com
We continued our Daily Recruiting Updates with news of a Miam area offensive lineman who gave a verbal commitment to the Owls
  • Other linkage
The Sun-Sentinel writes about the defense played by the Owls. ...Manhattan fell to Marist 65-59, which of corse has the New York Post asking if coach Barry Rohrssen should be replaced? Gotta love the New York media.

 

Sunday’s Daily Briefing: Jarvis reaches out to fans

If you noticed a few more folks in the stands at The Burrow during Saturday’s FAU-Arkansas St. game, you can thank Florida Atlantic coach Mike Jarvis.

Jarvis is taking a hands-on approach to pump up the crowds at FAU Arena and that includes bringing in people from his church and handing out tickets when he is out in the community.
One of the reasons FAU hired Jarvis (pictured here in this photo by Lorenzo Ponce de Leon of Owl TV) was because he was already living in Boca Raton and was a natural to coach the Owls. Now the community needs to support one of its own residents and Jarvis is doing his best to reach out to build the fan base. That includes holding a New Year's day basketball clinic at Spanish River Church, which brought a few hundred extra fans to the game on Saturday.
“This reminds of Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School and building a basketball program,” Jarvis said following the victory over the Red Wolves. “You make the popcorn, the programs, sell tickets and go out and do clinics to try and get people. I gave away some tickets to some people last night when I was having dinner. They came and now they are going to buy season tickets. It’s fun.”
The result was a larger crowd than one could have imagined for a Saturday night game before the students are back on-campus. Even though classes officially resumed Saturday, most students will begin the spring semester on Monday, explaining a lukewarm response from FAU’s biggest supporters.
It was strange that the attendance wasn’t officially announced, but the crowd was big enough that in years past it would have been one of the larger crowds of the season. I know some were disappointed in the crowd, but to me it appears the fan base is growing and it will take some time. Giving the fans in attendance a good show on Saturday was a step in the right direction.
> Owl Links: Articles of interest to FAU fans
  • FAUOwlAccess.com
We had full coverage of the basketball game and also another Daily Recruiting Update
  • Other linkage
The Sun-Sentinel had this game story

Here is the full photo gallery from Owl TV's Lorenzo Ponce De Leon.

Saturday's Daily Briefing: FAU's Royster nears Sun Belt block record

FAU senior forward Brett Royster was taken by surprise after Thursday’s 65-57 victory vs. South Alabama when he found out he was approaching the Sun Belt Conference record for career blocked shots.

“I had no idea about it until you just asked,” Royster said in response to a question I posed to him about the record after he had four blocks vs. the Jaguars.
Royster now has 262 blocked shots in his career and is five away from passing UAB’s Alan Ogg, who had 266 in his career from 1986-90.
The tiny fraction of Heat fans who knew the franchise was in existence before LeBron James brought his talents to South Beach may remember Ogg playing for Miami during the team’s early years.
It’s quite an accomplishment for Royster and his success at blocking shots is a big reason why the Owls are playing better defense lately – and winning more.
“It means a lot,” Royster said. “Its an accomplishment I’ll be able to hold on until the next person comes.”
Royster has a shot at the record in tonight’s game vs. Arkansas State. We’ll be providing block-by-block updates on FAUOwlAccess.com so check with us tonight or help us get to 1,000 followers on Twitter @FAUOwlAccess.
> Owl Links: Articles of interest to FAU fans
  • FAUOwlAccess.com
We had an installment of our Daily Recruiting Update as we let you know what’s going on in recruiting every day until National Signing Day. We also posted our preview and scouting reports for tonight’s FAU-ASU game.
  • Other linkage
The Sun-Sentinel had this preview of the ASU-FAU game.
Friday's Daily Briefing: Shifting into recruiting overdrive

National Signing Day is less than a month away, which mean's this is the heart of the recruiting season for FAU. At FAUOwlAccess.com, we're shifting into overdrive.

Starting today, we're going to bring FAU fans what they want most this time of year: Football recruiting news. And we're going to do it everyday. Sometimes multiple times a day.

We've already written about the Owls' first six commitments, and The List tells FAU fans who the Owls have offered and other players that they are considering. That list changes every day, so you might want to make checking it part of a daily regime.

In the coming days we'll be telling you who is headed to Boca Raton for a visit, what they thought of the trip and whether or not they plan on wearing an FAU hat on Signing Day.

That will lead all the way up to Feb. 2 when the fun really starts.

Readers of FAUOwlAccess.com have come to expect the most accurate and complete coverage of their teams. For those who want recruiting news, we promise that these next four weeks won't be rivaled.

Owl LinksArticles of interest to FAU fans.
Owl Talk emerged from winter break by talking basketball with Greg Gantt. FAUOwlAccess.com also delivered complete coverage from FAU's hoops victory over South Alabama on Thursday, including video highlights.

Other links
Game stories: Palm Beach Post / Sun-Sentinel / Mobile Press-Register
 

Thursday's Daily Briefing: We explain some of the things you'll hear following FAU recruiting

With FAU landing two commitments earlier this week, bringing its total to six, we are now officially immersed into the recruiting  season.

Perhaps it’s a good time to dispel some of the misconceptions that usually pop up about this time to those who may not quite understand some of the nuances of recruiting or who may be following the recruiting coverage on FAUOwlAccess.com for the first time.
A commitment is a commitment
In the recruiting world, a commitment has a totally different meaning than in the real world. Any commitment given to a school by a player is non-binding until that player signs his National Letter of Intent. So a player can give a commitment, but have a change of heart without any repercussions. It happens to every school.
FAU likes to keep its commitments quiet
It has nothing to do with what FAU wants. It is an NCAA rule that no one at FAU can comment on a player until he has signed.
How many “stars” a player has is important
Through the years, this has been a highly-debated issue. Some recruiting sites rank high school players by giving them a number of “stars.” I don’t see anything wrong with this, but all the rankings should be taken with a grain of salt. After seeing players recruited by FAU go from two stars to five stars overnight once big schools got involved, it’s believable that quality players are out there who don’t have four and five stars. In short, think of the “star” system is more of an indication on how highly recruited a players is, not how good they are.
No one knows what went on in recruiting before Twitter and Facebook
I saw this the other day and think I can go ahead and name a winner for the dumbest thing I will hear during recruiting this season since commitments were being reported well before Twitter and Facebook. Rumor has it that before Twitter and Facebook there was an invention called the telephone and with it you can call high school coaches and players and they will, on occasion, tell you what is going on and what they are doing. That’s worked out pretty good for me during every one of FAU’s recruiting periods going back to the days before the first game- and yes, that was before Facebook. Anyone who follows recruiting just using Facebook and Twitter, is doing just that - following.
I hope that helps explains some of the basics of recruiting. You can keep track of what's going on with FAU recruiting by checking back with FAUOwlAccess.com as we get ready for National Signing Day on Feb. 2, 2011.  
> Owl Links: Articles of interest to FAU fans
  • FAUOwlAccess.com
We talked to Dillard WR William Dukes about his commitment to FAU and had a preview of tonight’s basketball game against South Alabama.
  • Other linkage
The Sun-Sentinel also has a preview of the Owls-Jaguars game. …Here’s the preview from the Mobile Press-Register
Wednesday's Daily Briefing: Here's our mid-season report for FAU Hoops

 BOCA RATON – After Florida Atlantic defeated Florida Memorial on Monday, the Owls will face only one more non-conference opponent in the regular season - a rescheduled game against Manhattan on Jan. 11.

With each game, starting with Thursday’s game against South Alabama taking on extra significance, it’s time to see which players have stood out so far this season in our mid-season report card.

  • MVP: G Alex Tucker

Tucker’s role changed and he had to carry an increased load when guard Ray Taylor was out of the starting lineup for the first few games of the season. But Tucker handled the change and performed well. Tucker scored 19 points to lead the Owls to a 50-42 home victory vs. USF and is averaging 8.4 points per game.

Top newcomer: G Pablo Bertone

Not much was expected of Bertone, but he has become an extremely valuable member of the team. Bertone is only scoring 2.4 points per game, but his presence on the court seems to give the team a spark when he enters the game

Top individual performance: Ray Taylor’s 24-point outburst at Troy

Taylor, making his first start of the season, scored 10 of his 24 points in overtime as the Owls defeated Troy on the road on Dec. 16 in their Sun Belt Conference opener.

Season lowlight: 3-game losing skid in late November

The Owls lost three consecutive games when they fell to American, Florida and George Mason. The streak looked to certainly reach four games against Mississippi State.

Season highlight: Victory vs. Mississippi State

The Owls pulled off a shocker, defeating the Bulldogs in Starkville, Miss. on Nov.30. It was the first time in school history in nine tries that FAU defeated a team from the SEC.

> Owl Links: Articles of interest to FAU fans

  • FAUOwlAccess.com

We reported on two players who gave verbal commitments to FAU on Tuesday. Check out our story here.

  • Other linkage

The Sun-Sentinel reported on the three FAU players who were invited to the NFL Combine over the weekend. …Former Owl QB Rusty Smith and his faiith was featured in this article from Baptist Press Sports.

Dukes quickly excited to commit to FAU

Talked with Fort-Lauderdale-Dillard wide receiver William Dukes a few moments ago and he sounded pretty excited to have verbally committed to FAU today.

Dukes had been evaluating FAU for a while, and even attended one of the Owls' first practices of the 2010 season.

When the offer came on Tuesday afternoon, Dukes jumped on it.

“I already wanted to go there, but I was just awaiting on them to offer,” Dukes said.

At 6-foot-3, Dukes has good size. His numbers aren't eye-popping (about 40 catches, 9 TDs) but his production was limited by the Wing-T offense Dillard ran.
 
“I'm pretty sure once he gets in to (FAU's) system, he's going to take off,” Dillard coach Manny Martin said. “He's just raw right now.”
 

Tuesday's Daily Briefing: Non-Division I games don't help FAU

FAU coach Mike Jarvis answered the question about as bluntly as you could do following Monday’s 94-76 victory vs. NAIA Florida Memorial.

Jarvis laid out the evidence that FAU isn’t hurt by playing non-Division I teams using its current RPI (106 before Monday) as evidence.
It should be noted that the question had nothing to do with scheduling, but since Jarvis brought it up, it’s fair game to examine Monday’s game vs. the NAIA Lions.
FAUOwlAccess.com's Chuck King talked with Jarvis earlier about playing non Division I teams such as Warner and Florida Memorial and wrote about it Monday in our blog.
As a whole, I think FAU has perhaps its best schedule in years including home games vs. American, USF and Manhattan.
However, while games vs. Warner and Florida Memorial may not be hurting FAU’s RPI, they aren’t helping since only games vs. Division I teams are taken into consideration.
And  there is no doubt that games vs. Warner and Florida Memorial do little for the fans – only 533 fans showed up at The Burrow on Monday.
The good news is that the Sun Belt Conference is taking notice and wants its teams to stop scheduling non Division I teams. If that doesn’t help FAU’s RPI, it certainly will help its attendance and perception of the program as a whole.
> Owl Links: Articles of interest to FAU fans
  • FAUOwlAccess.com
We had full coverage of the 94-76 victory vs. Florida Memorial including our recap, analysis, video highlights and stats. Get it all in one place by clicking here.
Monday's Daily Briefing: Dare call Florida Memorial a tune-up?

Florida Memorial may have originally been added to the schedule as a final tune-up before FAU hits the meat of its Sun Belt schedule.

A couple of the Owls' past three games against NAIA schools, however, may have FAU approaching tonight's game a little differently.

“I don't know if you can call it a tune-up because we lost to Northwood here earlier in the year,” said Alex Tucker, recalling FAU's exhibition loss. “We are taking it as a serious game and a chance to get better.”

Coach Mike Jarvis shared Tucker's sentiment, but pointed to a different game.

“You can call it (a tune-up) if you want, but the last time we had a tune-up game that counted it went to double or triple overtime 109-106,” Jarvis said, referring to the Owls' near upset by Warner last season.

Prior to the start of the season, Jarvis said this year's schedule represented the kind of slate he wanted the Owls to play in the coming years. He figures that having teams like Florida Memorial and Warner on the schedule gives the Owls a couple of home games without having to return the favor.

He pointed to last year's season-opener at  Southeast Louisiana as the kind of reciprocal game that the Owls don't need to be signing up for. In this year's home home-opener, the Owls fixed their Warner issues, easily dismissing the Royals by 30. That's Tucker in the photo converting a lay-up in that game.

It's hard to argue with the desire to play more home games – although I'm not sure how many fans will show up for this one with the students still not back from break. The strategy nearly backfired, and not simply in the loss column.

The Owls put themselves in a position to win nearly all their games this season. Had FAU pulled out some of those close ones, there could have been legitimate talk of an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The selection committee, thought, does not look kindly upon games against NAIA teams. Could be something to watch in coming years.

Also, remember that the Sun Belt Conference adopted its 150 Rule prior to the start of the season. The conference is telling members that either the school needs to have an RPI of 150 or better, or the average RPI of its opponents needs to be 150 or better. The conference is also discouraging games against non-Division I opponents.

Jarvis doesn't seem like the kind of coach who will change his scheduling philosophy to pacify people in New Orleans, but in a year or two it would be hard for Owl fans to stomach a missed NCAA bid if the committee's reasoning is that FAU chose to play Warner and Florida Memorial.

Owl linksArticles of interest to FAU fans

  • FAUOwlAccess.com

We posted this preview of tonight's basketball game against Florida Memorial.

Sunday's Daily Briefing: Invitation to combine caps big December for Van Camp

Jeff Van Camp made the most of the final weeks of 2010. During that time the quarterback graduated from FAU, became engaged to former FAU swimmer Emilie Allen and received an invitation to the upcoming NFL scouting combine.

Van Camp (photo, courtesy Ralph Notaro / NDM Images) was working out with Lester Jean in Boca Raton on Friday when he learned Jean received an invitation to the combine via e-mail. He figured it might be time to get to a computer, too.

“I checked my e-mail – low and behold I got my invitation,” Van Camp said. “I told Emilie. We just started going crazy.”

FAU tight end Rob Housler also earned an invite. The trio will be the first Owls to participate in combine workouts since Jared Allen in 2005.

“We didn't have the greatest year on offense as a team, but the scouts saw something,” Van Camp said. “We are just really excited to go over there and show off what we can do and hopefully help FAU out. ...Hopefully, we'll still be on the same page with throwing and make each other look good.”

Van Camp is getting ready to head to California to train before the combine, which is held Feb. 23-March 1 in Indianapolis.

“Going to the combine doesn't guarantee anything,” Van Camp said. “It is just a better way to showcase yourself, especially coming from a smaller school where people may not have been able to see you.”

> Owl links: Articles of interest to FAU fans

  • FAUOwlAccess.com

We started the new year with a recruiting story, talking with Coconut Creek- Monarch commit Dan Donnelly.
 

Happy New Year from FAU Owl Access

From all of us at FAU Owl Access, we hope your 2011 gets off to a good start today.

One way to do that is by taking in some football today, including some advance scouting of FAU’s first 2011 opponent, Florida, which plays Penn State in today’s Outback Bowl at 1 p.m.
And on the subject of bowls, someone bought me the book Death to the BCS by Dan Wetzel for my birthday on Tuesday.
It was the perfect present and I can’t wait to read Wetzel take the current bowl system to task as he pushed for my favorite version of a playoff – a 16-team tournament with automatic bids going to every conference. Yes, that includes the Sun Belt Conference. Sorry Troy fans, FIU makes the field even though as we all know the Trojans are Co-champions. That crackpot Wetzel determined the SBC champion based on a head-to-head tiebreaker.
Anyway, here is an article by Wetzel laying out his plan, but I can’t wait to start turning the pages as he tackles a possible playoff in book form.
I've enjoyed some of the bowl games, but a playoff would generate much more excitement, in my opinion.
> Owl Links: Articles of interest to FAU fans
  • FAUOwlAccess.com
Not one, not two, but three FAU players are headed to the NFL combine, our Chuck King reports.

 

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Go watch college football in Boca. It's that simple. Support your local team and go have a good time!

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Nicely done Jake. Great addition to Owl Access.

Then who do you think has the uper hand to be three yard directly behind the center.

Sorry, I read the above question wrong. Who will be UNDER center? No one. They will operate primarily from the shutgun.

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