COLUMN: The football offices at Memphis East High School have been a busy place this spring. East coach Marcus Wimberly has been entertaining a bevy of college coaches who are hot on the trail of his standout running back, Brian Kimbrow (5-foot-9, 165-pounds).
Kimbrow is one of two nationally ranked running backs from Memphis that virtually every top school in the nation is after this year and one of three Tennessee running backs who are ranked as one of the top 250 players in the nation by Rivals.com. The Rebels have two senior running backs on the roster heading into the 2011 season, while Devin Thomas is on track to graduate after the season and may not return for the 2012 campaign despite having one more year of eligibility.
Ole Miss is one of the many schools who has offered Kimbrow. Kimbrow is listed as an all-purpose back, a player who can return kicks and punts, catches passes out of the backfield and run with power when needed.
“He’s a good player who can do a lot of different things,” said Wimberly, who played safety at the University of Miami in the 1990s. “He is very fast, quick, and he plays a lot bigger than what he’s listed.”
Wimberly said Kimbrow can run the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds, or under, and has ability similar to former Florida State running back Warrick Dunn, who played 12 seasons in the NFL.
“Brian has God-given speed. His hands have gotten a lot better. He has it all,” Wimberly said. “He plays more offense, but he plays cornerback for me on defense. He can return kicks, he can play everything.”
Some schools have questioned whether or not Kimbrow, who was being evaluated by Notre Dame on Tuesday at Wimberly’s office, can be an every-down running back. Wimberly said he can carry the load for a college team if needed and points to his strength — he squats almost 400 pounds — as a reason why he can do what is needed at the next level.
“He had 157 carries for us last year and averaged almost 8 yards per carry. We run a pro offense, some spread, but he gets a lot of carries through the tackles,” Wimberly said. “He hasn’t been hurt. He is a player that everybody needs. He is a guy that can make plays for whatever team he goes to.”
Wimberly said Rebel coaches got in on Kimbrow late compared to some other schools but added that he will attend an Ole Miss football camp during the summer. The plan heading into the summer is to visit several schools starting with Miami the first week in June and then go to other camps that are closer to home as the summer goes on.
In the running
The other top running back from Memphis the Rebels have offered and are actively recruiting is Wooddale’s Jovon Robinson (6-1, 218, 4.5). Robinson led the Cardinals with 2,196 and 36 TDs on 232 carries last season. He rushed for 1,675 yards and 26 TDs as a sophomore and is rated as a consensus Top 20 back in the nation by both Rivals.com and Scout.com.
Robinson told Scout.com’s Southern Recruiting Manager Chad Simmons earlier this month he was planning to visit several schools this summer, including Mississippi State, Alabama, Tennessee and Arkansas.
I’tavius Mathers (6-0, 195, 4.5) is the third nationally ranked running back in the state of Tennessee that Ole Miss is recruiting. Mathers hails from Murfreesboro’s Blackman High. He is coming off a fabulous junior campaign in which he rushed for 2,614 yards and 29 TDs and helped lead his team to an 11-2 record. Some of Mathers other offers include Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Alabama, Clemson, South Carolina, Notre Dame and Virginia.
Mathers is ranked as No. 221 on Rivals.com’s Top 250 list heading into the 2011 season. (May 26, 2011, Page 7)