4 Questions with ESPN’s Craig Haubert, Dan Margulis



Today’s interviewees are ESPN analyst Craig Haubert and ESPN senior director of programming and acquisitions Dan Margulis. Haubert, the recruiting coordinator for ESPN Recruiting, will be providing the color commentary for ESPN2′s coverage of tonight’s game between Lowndes and Valdosta at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. Margulis negotiates rights agreements for ESPN’s college and high school sports programming.

Craig Haubert and Dan Margulis, ESPN

1. What brings ESPN to Valdosta? Is it the players? Valdosta’s history? A nationally known coach, Rush Propst? Margulis: “It really is a combination of all factors. The school has such a long history of success, and we have enjoyed being a part of that coverage over the years. Also, yes the players and recruits play a factor – both teams have a strong contingent of talent.”

2. Which players are the most intriguing for you to watch and why? Haubert: "Valdosta 2022 CB Jadarian Rhym. Ranked in the ESPN Junior 300, he is already establishing himself as one of the top CB prospects in that class. He possesses desired height and length for the position, a good athlete that can make plays in coverage, but what also jumps out is his physical style of play. He demonstrates he can be a well-rounded player with his aggressive and tough approach to defending the run.

"Valdosta 2022 WR Tajh Sanders. Valdosta has a few promising and talented receivers but can argue in terms of pure ability and upside that Sanders leads that group. He is another prospect in the ESPN Junior 300. Can be an explosive playmaker with great hands and is a good route runner for this stage. With a QB making just his third start, they’ll need Sanders to step up and make some big plays, which he has shown he is capable of.

“Lowndes 2021 LB Thomas Davis. Physical, hard-hitting defender with quick feet. Has been a versatile player for them working at LB and DE. I think he could end up proving to be an underrated part of Miami’s 2021 class.”

3. Jacurri Brown is one of the state’s best players and led our Player of the Year Watch last week. A prominent coach last week compared him to a Cam Newton in high school. But he’s yet to establish himself as an elite passer. What’s your assessment of him at the next level? Haubert: “I would’ve included Jacurri with the above. Physically impressive prospect with a wealth of tools. Can certainly continue to develop as a passer with his mechanics and accuracy, but with his athleticism, arm strength and the competitiveness he seems to play with, he has the traits you can’t teach. He’s only just in the first part of his junior season, one in which he is coming into with limited opportunities to get to camps and work on those things due to the pandemic. He still has time to develop further as a passer and presents a high ceiling. Also love the way he runs with a physical and reckless style, and he will need to learn to curb that some over time to protect himself, but it is fun to watch.”

4. What’s the history of ESPN covering high school football games, and how is it going? What drives it? Margulis: “When we launched ESPNU in 2005, we saw an opportunity to more extensively cover high school sports – an area that had been previously underserved on ESPN and ESPN2. We are selective in what we cover and have had success providing exposure to some of the top student-athletes. Recruiting was an emerging area in 2005 that has really taken off since. Our library now is really extensive. We have tried over the years to balance ‘the usual suspects’ with other programs in other states that provide quality, in addition to new and exciting environments. High school is unique in the way it can permeate the local communities, and it is our job as story tellers to expose the viewers to that, in addition to talking about the latest prospects.”

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