Even though Tom Lemming has made his living for many years as a high school football recruiting analyst, he is a die-hard fan of the Chicago Cubs.
When it comes to a high school star choosing between college football and professional baseball, Lemming has what could be a surprising opinion.
He related, "I always tell them, ‘You will go baseball if you're a first-round draft choice.' They get advisers – not agents – who send out the word that they are going to college. Then they wait until the night of the deadline (to sign) and the price goes up, up, up."
He used Bubba Starling
, a highly sought quarterback from Gardner-Edgerton (Gardner, Kan.)
who actually was attending classes at the University of Nebraska this summer, as a recent example. Starling was the No. 5 pick and Lemming reasoned that the Kansas City Royals would have been embarrassed if they had let a local star get away.
"I knew Bubba was going (he signed at the deadline for $7.5 million) and it was a smart move," he said. "Here's the reason. By the third year he should make Double-A ball. By the fourth year if he's not doing well, he still has his bonus and can be a 22-year-old college freshman."
Though he only gives his opinion if asked, Lemming said he did talk to Starling's father about this situation. He also recalls talking to Joe Mauer, who was his National Player of the Year following a brilliant career at Cretin-Derham Hall (St. Paul, Minn.). Mauer chose baseball, too, and has been a big star for the Minnesota Twins.
Lemming pointed to at least three top senior football players who probably will have to make this difficult decision following their spring baseball campaigns.
No. 1, he mentioned David Thompson
of Westminster Christian (Miami)
, who already has broken several state home run records, but also is a standout quarterback.Anthony Alford
is another quarterback who also is a top hitter and stolen-base threat with great speed from Petal (Petal, Miss.)
A third player in this category is Jameis Winston
, who stars in both sports
for Hueytown (Ala.)
Some football players simply are labeled "athlete." Lemming says that can help or hurt a player. The label basically says he is versatile and not pigeon-holed into just one position.
He can't recall a player with that label ever being ranked No. 1 in the nation. Off the top of his head he mentioned Percy Harvin, a wide receiver-defensive back from Landstown (Virginia Beach, Va.) who was in his top five.
Lemming believes that one player being hurt by the "athlete" label is Devin Fuller
, who plays quarterback for Northern Valley (Old Tappan, N.J.)
"He's my No. 55 player and I think I underrated him," Lemming said of the 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior. "He's magic with the ball in his hands. Whoever gives him a chance at quarterback is going to be real happy. He
needs to go to a program where they will build around his talents."
The MaxPreps/Lemming Report will begin its weekly show on the CBS Sports Network on Friday, Sept. 2, at 8 p.m., EST, with Devin Fuller as the featured guest.
Lemming announced that CBS Sports Network will televise the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl - featuring 100 of the top prep senior football players in the nation – on Jan. 3, 2012, at Chase Field in Phoenix, home of the
Arizona Diamondbacks. The 100 selected seniors also will be marching in the Fiesta Bowl Parade on Jan. 1.
Lemming said he will be announcing the seniors gradually throughout the fall season.
CBS Sports Network also will televise four hours of the Proving Ground at the same site on Jan. 2. This invitation-only combine will feature 300 of the top underclass football players in the country.