By Dave Glenn, ACC Sports Journal
January 5, 2004 Two more prep All-Americans selected ACC schools as their college destinations in recent weeks. Prospects can make their decisions official beginning in February, which marks the beginning of this year's eight-week-long (Feb. 4-April 1) football signing period. Here are the league's latest commitment capsules, with most of the details provided directly by college coaches, high school coaches, the players or their families: Culpeper (VA) County LB/DB Kent Hicks, rated one of the top 25 defensive backs in the nation, picked Maryland over Tennessee, Virginia (visit) and Virginia Tech. He also had offers from Boston College, Clemson, ECU and West Virginia. As a senior, he had 109 tackles and two interceptions on defense, with 505 receiving yards, 291 rushing yards and nine touchdowns as a receiver on offense. As a junior, he had 105 tackles and 10 interceptions. A projected safety or outside linebacker for the Terps, he benches 280 pounds, squats 340 and runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds. He has a 2.4 GPA and still needs a qualifying SAT score. Greenville (SC) High OL Cory Lambert, rated one of the top 25 offensive linemen in the nation, opted for childhood favorite Clemson over Alabama, FSU, South Carolina and Tennessee. However, he said he may follow through with scheduled visits to the Tigers (Jan. 9), Gamecocks (Jan. 16), Crimson Tide (Jan. 23) and Volunteers (Jan. 30). He also had offers from Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, UNC, NCSU and Wake Forest. He said he especially likes the direction of the Clemson program, its offensive style (same as his high school), the availability of early playing time, the presence of several friends at the school and the location (30 minutes away) of its campus. As a senior, playing tackle, he graded out at 91 percent for a 12-1 team that had a 3,000-yard passer and a 2,000-yard runner. As a junior, he graded out at 89 percent and had 38 knockdown blocks for an 11-1 team. Greenville High graduates played at Clemson (OL William Henry) and South Carolina (WR Noah Whiteside) last fall. Lambert benches 400 pounds, squats 550 and runs the 40 in 5.1 seconds. He has a 2.7 GPA and an 820 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Tigers is linebackers coach David Blackwell. Others Select Area Programs Bethlehem (PA) Catholic DE John Bedics, rated one of the top 50 seniors in Pennsylvania, committed to NCSU over Connecticut, Richmond and Villanova. Penn State and West Virginia also showed interest. His brother Pat is a linebacker at PSU. A two-year starter, John had 60 tackles and 5.5 sacks as a senior, when he was an all-conference and all-area selection. As a junior, he had 54 tackles and six sacks. His first year of organized football came when he was a sophomore. Bedics also is a four-year starter in basketball. He runs the 40 in 4.8 seconds. He has a 3.2 GPA and a 1,000-plus SAT score. His main recruiter with the Wolfpack is cornerbacks coach Greg Williams. Madison (AL) Bob Jones DT/DE David Brown, rated one of the top 10 seniors in Alabama, picked Georgia Tech over Alabama (visit), Notre Dame (visit) and Vanderbilt (visit). He also had offers from Auburn, Clemson, Louisville, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Stanford. His mother and father are Alabama graduates, and his sister went to Auburn, and he listed the Crimson Tide as his favorite for much of the recruiting process. Brown said Tech's academics, especially the school's highly regarded engineering program, was a major factor in the end. A three-year starter, he had 45 tackles for a 5-5 team as a senior, when he earned honorable mention Class 6A all-state honors. As a junior, he had 68 tackles and six sacks. He benches 330 pounds, squats 550 and runs the 40 in 4.8 seconds. He has a 3.7 GPA and a 23 ACT score. His main recruiter with the Yellow Jackets is offensive line coach Joe D'Allesandris. Jacksonville (FL) Mandarin WR Patrick Clark, rated one of the top 100 seniors in Florida, selected Georgia Tech over Michigan State, Mississippi, UNC and Vanderbilt. He also had offers from Bowling Green, Marshall, Middle Tennessee State and South Florida. Clark said he particularly liked Tech's academics, its location (five hours from home) and the availability of early playing time. As a senior, he had about 700 rushing yards, 600 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns for a 6-3 team while splitting time among tailback, receiver and cornerback. As a junior at Jacksonville (FL) University Christian, he played mostly tailback and rushed for 750 yards and 14 TDs. He benches 240 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. Clark, who said he plans to major in engineering, has a 3.0 GPA and an 18 ACT score. His main recruiter with the Yellow Jackets is passing-game coordinator/receivers coach Buddy Geis. Charlotte (NC) West DB Rod Council, rated one of the top 10 seniors in North Carolina, chose Virginia Tech over Michigan (visit), Notre Dame (visit), Tennessee and Virginia (visit). He also had offers from Clemson, Duke, ECU, Maryland, Navy, Syracuse and Wake Forest. He said he liked the UNC and N.C. State programs, but neither offered him a scholarship. Recent West Charlotte graduates went on to play at NCSU (OL Brandon Moore), Syracuse (FB Thump Belton) and Wake Forest (FB Fred Staton). A first-team all-state selection, Council had 50 tackles and a state-leading 11 interceptions as a senior for a 14-1 team that captured the school's fourth straight Class 4A championship. He benches 300 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. He has a 3.5 GPA and a 960 SAT score. Chatham (VA) Hargrave Military DB Brandon Flowers, formerly of Delray Beach (FL) Atlantic, chose Virginia Tech over Maryland, NCSU and Tennessee. His former teammate at Atlantic, receiver David Clowney, was a freshman receiver for the Hokies last fall. Flowers, who is projected as a cornerback, runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. He said he hopes to enroll at Tech for the spring semester. Virginia Beach (VA) Landstown WR Jeremy Gilchrist, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Virginia, picked Virginia Tech over Connecticut, Hofstra and Kent State. He also had an early scholarship offer from Colorado, but the Buffaloes backed off after he took a recruiting trip to Boulder, citing his unexpectedly small (5-9, 180) size. As a senior, Gilchrist had 87 receptions for 1,459 yards and 18 touchdowns for a 13-1 team that reached the Group 3A Division 6 championship game. He also had nine interceptions and three TDs on defense, plus three scores on punt returns and three on rushing attempts. He previously played at Virginia Beach (VA) Salem and Virginia Beach (VA) Tallwood. As a junior at Salem, he had 61 receptions for 1,009 yards and nine TDs. At all three stops in high school, he played for coach Chris Beatty, a former CFL receiver. Landstown is in just its third year of existence. Gilchrist benches 230 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.45 seconds. He has a 2.9 GPA but still needs a qualifying SAT score. Chatham (VA) Hargrave Military WR Justin Harper, formerly of Catawba (NC) Bandys, picked Virginia Tech over UNC, NCSU, Wake Forest and West Virginia. Three Hargrave products were on the Tech roster last fall: DB Corey Gordon, ATH Michael Hinton and TE Matt Roan. Harper signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Winthrop out of high school, but he failed to qualify academically. He runs the 40 in 4.55 seconds. He said he plans to enroll at Tech for the spring semester. Highland Springs (VA) High OL Wyatt Hicks, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Virginia, selected UNC over Clemson and Georgia Tech. He also had offers from Duke, ECU, Mississippi State and Ohio, while Maryland and Virginia showed interest. Before transferring to Highland Springs, he played mostly tight end for Mechanicsville (VA) Lee-Davis. After adding about 30 pounds before the 2003 season, he earned first-team all-metro (Richmond) honors as a tackle for a 9-2 team during his first year on the offensive line. He benches 300 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.9 seconds. His teammate, offensive lineman Tony Willis, committed to Clemson last summer. Other Highland Springs products were on the rosters at Duke (WR Derek Bryant) and Virginia Tech (DE Noland Burchette, DE Jim Davis) last fall. Also a four-year varsity basketball player, Hicks started at center last season for a 26-3 Highland Springs team that won the program's first state title since 1960. He has a 3.6 GPA and an 1,100 SAT score. Winter Garden (FL) West Orange WR James Johnson, rated one of the top 150 seniors in Florida, opted for Georgia Tech over Central Florida and Connecticut (visit). Iowa, Nebraska and South Carolina also showed interest. As a senior, he had more than 1,000 all-purpose yards while playing tailback and receiver. As a junior, he had 20 receptions for around 200 yards and seven TDs. Johnson, who has a time of 4.4 in the 40-yard dash, ran the 100 meters in 10.6 seconds for the West Orange track team. A likely engineering major, he has a 3.5 GPA and a 19 ACT score. His main recruiter with the Yellow Jackets is quarterbacks coach Patrick Nix. Merritt Island (FL) High DE Mike Mangold, rated one of the top 50 seniors in Florida, chose Virginia Tech (only visit) over Florida, NCSU, Pittsburgh and Tennessee. He also had offers from Connecticut, ECU, Nebraska, South Carolina and South Florida. Mangold is a nephew of Tech athletic director Jim Weaver. As a senior, Mangold missed six games with a broken foot but posted seven sacks in seven games, earning second-team all-region honors. As a junior, playing for a 5-5 Greenacres (FL) Leonard team, he had 95 tackles and 9.5 sacks and was a third-team Class 6A all-state selection. He benches 340 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.7 seconds. He must improve his academic credentials to qualify. His main recruiter with the Hokies is defensive line coach Charley Wiles. Fork Union (VA) Military WR Josh Morgan, formerly of Washington (DC) Woodson, settled on Virginia Tech over Iowa (visit) and Maryland (visit) after separately announcing decisions for each of the three schools. He also had offers from Connecticut (visit), Marshall, UNC (visit), Pittsburgh, Purdue and Temple. In 2003, he scored a team-leading 12 touchdowns for an 8-4 Fork Union team. Morgan previously played two seasons of high school football at Washington (DC) Eastern, where he earned all-conference and all-metro honors in 2001, and one at Woodson, where he was eligible for only two games (because of transfer rules) as a senior. One former Woodson player (freshman DB Roland Minor) already plays for the Hokies, and two current Woodson standouts (DB Theodore Miller, DT William Wall) committed to Tech in the fall. Morgan recently ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds at a Fork Union combine. He said he plans to enroll at Tech for the spring semester. Chesapeake (VA) Indian River RB Branden Ore, rated one of the top 10 seniors in Virginia, picked Virginia Tech over Maryland. UNC, NCSU and Tennessee also showed interest. He said Tech promised him a chance to begin his career at tailback. One Indian River graduate was on an ACC roster last fall: DB Jamaine Winborne (Virginia). As a senior, Ore ran 156 times for 1,280 yards and 18 touchdowns for a 10-3 team. He added 70 tackles and three interceptions as a safety. As a junior, he rushed for 940 yards and 11 TDs in eight games and caught 15 passes for 282 yards. He benches 320 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. He has a 2.6 GPA and an 890 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Hokies is offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring. Mountain Brook (AL) High QB Tribble Reese, rated one of the top 30 seniors in Alabama, picked Clemson over NCSU (visit) and Wake Forest (visit). Baylor, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State and Notre Dame also showed interest. As a senior, he completed 166 of 238 passing attempts (69.7 percent) for 2,353 yards, with 24 touchdowns and four interceptions, and earned honorable mention all-state honors. In what was his first season as a starting QB, he also rushed 118 times for 661 yards and four TDs for an 11-2 team in Alabama's largest (6A) classification. He runs the 40 in 4.7 seconds. He has a 3.8 GPA and a 1,360 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Tigers is receivers coach Dabo Swinney. Fork Union (VA) Military Academy OL Ryan Shuman, the son of Fork Union coach John Shuman, committed to Virginia Tech over Toledo. He also had offers from Central Michigan, Richmond, VMI, Western Michigan and William & Mary. Fork Union has sent dozens of players to the Division I-A ranks, and five graduates were on this year's Tech team: DE Jim Davis, WR Josh Hyman, OL Jimmy Martin, PK Carter Warley and WR Ernest Wilford. A two-way lineman and two-time all-state selection, Shuman played for Fork Union's prep team, which is coached by Mickey Sullivan. (John Shuman coaches the post-graduate team.) As a junior, he had 56 tackles and seven sacks. Ryan, who runs the 40 in 5.1 seconds, is projected as a center for the Hokies. Shuman, whose sister is a student at Tech, is on track to qualify academically. His main recruiter with the Hokies is outside linebackers coach Jim Cavanaugh. Tampa (FL) Jesuit DE A.J. Smith, rated one of the top 200 seniors in Florida, opted for Georgia Tech over South Florida. Boston College, Connecticut, Duke, UNC, Northwestern and Southern Miss also showed interest. Two recent Jesuit stars, QB George Godsey and WR Will Glover, had successful college careers with the Yellow Jackets. The Jesuit program has more than a dozen former players in or bound for the Division I-A ranks, including PK Xavier Beitia (FSU), DE Casey Camero (Duke), TB Aaron Fryer (Duke) and DB Evalio Harrell (Duke), a 2004 commitment via prep school. A first-team all-conference and all-county selection, Smith had 38 tackles and seven sacks in eight games for a 6-4 team as a senior. As a junior, he had 58 tackles and seven sacks for an 11-2 team. He has a 3.1 GPA and a 1,050 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Yellow Jackets was defensive line coach Glenn Spencer, who recently left Tech for Duke. Montreal (CAN) Vieux OL Jonathan St. Pierre, rated one of the top 10 prospects in Canada, chose Miami over Central Florida, Michigan State and NCSU. He became the fourth Canadian to choose the Hurricanes in the last decade, joining offensive linemen Joe McGrath, Sherko Haji-Rasouli and Brett Romberg. Products of the same Vieux Montreal program are playing at Central Michigan (DB Fabrice Raymond), Eastern Michigan (DB Manasse Zephir), Indiana (LB Martin Lapostolle), Michigan (DT Alain Kashama), Michigan State (WR Samuel Champagne), Northwestern (FB Gilles Lezi) and Stanford (DB Gerald Commissiong). St. Pierre said he plans to enroll at Miami in January. Lancaster (PA) Conestoga Valley QB Jordan Steffy, rated one of the top 10 seniors in Pennsylvania, picked Maryland over Clemson (visit), Michigan State (visit), Penn State (visit) and Virginia Tech (visit). He specified the order of finish this way: Terps (early offer, six unofficial visits, lots of regular contact, early playing time available, balanced run-pass offense, location three hours away), Hokies (loved QB coach Kevin Wilson), Nittany Lions (less contact, late contact), Spartans, Tigers (loved QB coach Mike O'Cain). Steffy also had offers from Connecticut, Duke, Indiana, Iowa, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Syracuse, Virginia and Wisconsin, although many of those schools went in other directions for QBs long before he made his decision and some wanted him for other positions. A four-year starter, he threw for 5,587 yards and 51 touchdowns in his career. As a senior, he completed 63 percent of his passes for 1,826 yards and 18 TDs and rushed for 523 yards and 11 scores for an 8-2 team. As a junior, he completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,178 yards and 21 TDs and rushed for 400 yards and 12 scores for an 8-2 team. He benches 300 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. He has a 2.6 GPA and a 940 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Terps is receivers coach James Franklin. Midseason Arrivals Boost Teams At least three ACC programs took advantage of the annual mid-year signing period for junior college transfers. The period runs from Dec. 17 to Jan. 15 in 2003-04, so there could be more additions on the way. In two of the three cases, the teams simply made official previously reported commitments from promising linemen. Lackawanna (PA) Junior College OL Tyler McMeans, a first-team NJCAA All-American, enrolled at Miami and observed pre-Orange Bowl practices with the Hurricanes. Southwest Mississippi (MS) Community College DT Cory Groover, who originally signed with Clemson out of Pamplico (SC) Hannah-Pamplico in 2002, enrolled at Clemson and watched pre-Peach Bowl workouts with the Tigers. Because they played for their juco teams in the fall, they could not have participated in bowl practices without losing an entire year of eligibility. Elsewhere, Georgia Military (GA) Junior College OL Merci Falaise committed to and then signed with N.C. State over Brigham Young, ECU and Middle Tennessee State. Colorado, Kansas and Ohio State also showed interest. A first-team National Junior College Athletic Association All-American, he was an all-state player at Washington (GA) Washington-Wilkes despite suffering a dislocated hip at the end of the 2000 season. As a senior in 2001-02, he received scholarship offers from Arkansas, Kentucky and South Carolina but failed to qualify academically. At Georgia Military, he was a two-year starter for teams that finished 10-1 and 8-3 over the past two seasons, and he dropped 50 pounds after arriving at the school as a 365-pounder. He runs the 40 in 5.3 seconds and projects as a guard for the Wolfpack. Meanwhile, a North Carolina commitment failed to meet UNC's academic standards in time for January admission and thus re-opened his recruitment. Hutchinson (KS) Community College LB Carlton Baker, who stated at the time of his original announcement that he would play for the Tar Heels only if he could enroll in January, said he was on track to meet NCAA minimums after the fall semester but fell short of the higher academic requirements he had discussed with the Carolina coaches. Among the Class of 2003 signees whose delayed (because of academics) arrivals on ACC campuses were confirmed in late December and early January were Chatham (VA) Hargrave Military DE Terry Hunter (UNC), Chatham (VA) Hargrave Military DT Khalif Mitchell (UNC), former Miami (FL) Carol City DE Eric Moncur (Miami) and former Miami (FL) Killian DB Miguel Scott (NCSU). All four players, who under NCAA rules were recruitable by other programs after they were denied admission last fall, raised their standardized test scores by the necessary amount over the last four months. Upon enrollment, they became off-limits to other recruiters. Several other 2003 holdovers, plus a handful of Class of 2004 prospects (see chart), also were expected to enroll at ACC schools for the spring semester. Stay tuned to ACCSports.com and the ACC Sports Journal for more updates in coming weeks.
Acc Programs Land Prep All-americans
By Dave Glenn, ACC Sports Journal