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Class Of 2003 Tells A Tale

Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
By: Accsports Staff

By David Glenn and staff
ACCSports.com

October 25, 2006

Coaches always say you can't judge a recruiting class until three or four years down the road, so we decided to do just that. With hindsight as our guide, we examined the ACC football recruiting classes of 2003 and posted new grades for them, based on the production of those players four years into their college careers.

Two of the non-traditional contenders for the 2006 ACC title - Georgia Tech and Boston College - have as the foundations of their success this fall deep, talented, mature, experienced groups of true seniors and fourth-year juniors. And, of course, there's Wake Forest. At the other end of the spectrum, Virginia, North Carolina and Duke are struggling (to various degrees) this season, with insufficient help from members of the Class of 2003.

Part One Of A Two-Part Series




GAILEY BUILT FIRM FOUNDATION

ATLANTA - Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey could say, "I told you so."

He could go on a rant about how the so-called recruiting experts don't really know a blue-chip class from an economics class sometimes.

He could talk about how ingenious his recruiting philosophies are and how he knew, on that first Wednesday in February 2003, that he had signed a class that would help the Yellow Jackets post winning records during their first three seasons on campus and contend for an ACC title in their fourth.

Except he doesn't. Because he can't.

"You don't know," Gailey said. "That ended up being a very good crew when you look at it compared to what everybody thought it was. But I had no idea at the time. We do the very best we can each year, and however it unfolds, it unfolds."

The recruiting gurus pegged Tech's 21-player Class of 2003 as mediocre - not great, but not bad. It generally was listed sixth in the nine-team ACC, and it ranked in the 35-50 range nationally.

Yet the class has produced 11 starters, including strong 2006 All-ACC candidates in quarterback Reggie Ball, cornerback Kenny Scott, linebackers KaMichael Hall and Philip Wheeler, and defensive tackle Joe Anoai. Offensive linemen Mansfield Wrotto, Kevin Tuminello and Matt Rhodes and defensive end Adamm Oliver also may get some support for all-conference honors this fall.

An amazing seven class members already have started for at least three years, led by Ball and Wrotto, both fourth-year starters as true seniors. Three others redshirted a year and likely will become third-year starters next season.

Those numbers would appear to be a credit to Gailey and his staff as talent evaluators. Not so, claims Gailey.

"It's probably just one of those things, the way it worked out," he said. "I don't know that we ever have a percentage of recruits who become starters in mind. You always have some guys who don't flourish as much as you think, and then you have guys who go over expectations."

The public expectations were low in 2003. The group was Gailey's first full recruiting class at Georgia Tech. He inherited a partial class the year before from George O'Leary, who left for Notre Dame two months before signing day.

For Gailey, the 2002 class represented his return to recruiting after a 10-year absence. He left the college ranks in 1993 to coach in the NFL, and the Tech job was his first Division I-A posting since the early 1980s, when he was an assistant at Air Force. His previous college head coaching jobs were at Division II schools Troy State and Samford.

Still, Gailey remembered how to recruit. He retained most of O'Leary's commitments in 2002 and started early on 2003. The key to that class, he said, was identifying recruits who fit Tech's academic profile and could succeed at a school where calculus classes remain core requirements for every student.

"The key was everybody, the whole staff, coming together and learning about Tech," Gailey said. "Learning about Tech was more important than recruiting. Everybody had recruited. Even though I hadn't recruited in a while, I had recruited. It's not so much about recruiting as it is learning about your situations, what makes you unique, and being able to develop your recruiting class around your unique properties."

Gailey's staff shook a few more bushes than normal as a result. Hall, a three-year starter at linebacker and the team's leading tackler this season, picked Tech over Northwestern and UTEP. The other finalists for Rhodes and Tuminello, who anchor the offensive line, were Baylor, TCU and Vanderbilt. Anoai's other high-level offers were from Louisville and South Florida.

"Tech is a special place," Anoai said. "It's unique, and we don't recruit just anybody. You have to fit into our lifestyle and live the way we live. You're not in a small, college town. You're in a big city, and you're going to be humbled quick, in and out of the classroom."

The class also included several big-name recruits. Scott and Rashaun Grant, a halfback who plays both in the backfield and split out as a receiver for the Yellow Jackets, were consensus prep All-Americans. Wheeler drew scholarship offers from Alabama and Auburn. Wrotto turned down offers from Maryland, Penn State and South Carolina, among others.

Ball is probably the biggest overachiever in the class. He could challenge the school's career passing yardage record this year, as well as the mark for rushing yardage by a quarterback.

Ball entered the season third on the all-time passing list, 2,500 yards behind record-holder Joe Hamilton (8,882). Ball had right around 1,000 yards at the season's midway point. Ball is on pace to break Hamilton's rushing mark of 1,758 yards. He needs 346 more to equal Hamilton, and he has six games plus any postseason contests to get it.

Yet Ball's small size (5-11) scared off most major college recruiters. He wasn't even the most highly touted quarterback in his class at Tech. That distinction went to Pat Carter, an athletic Florida product who chose the Yellow Jackets over Florida and Michigan. Yet Ball won the starting job a week into his first training camp.

Carter never got a chance to challenge Ball, after suffering a knee injury early in his freshman season. Carter redshirted in 2003 and served mainly as a punt returner in 2004. Upset over playing-time issues, he then transferred to Louisville, after leaving both Florida and South Florida with the impression that he'd end up at those schools. After sitting out the 2005 season, he's the leading punt returner and a backup wide receiver for the Cardinals this fall.

Another quarterback recruit left even earlier. Al Pena graduated from high school early and enrolled at Tech for the spring semester in 2003 to participate in spring drills. A Texas native, he transferred to Oklahoma State that fall. He is now the Cowboys' backup quarterback, after throwing for more than 1,000 yards last season.

Linebackers Nick Moore and Kyle Pupello transferred as well.

Moore quit the team during preseason practice in 2004 and jumped to home-state Baylor, where he is a starter and among the Bears' leading tacklers this fall. Moore opened 2004 camp as Tech's starter at weak-side linebacker, but Hall moved ahead of him the week before the season opener. Moore left the team the next day.

Pupello never saw action at Tech. He redshirted in 2003 and transferred to Northwest Community College, a junior college in Mississippi, in 2004. A Florida product, he is currently a walk-on fullback at Florida.

Offensive lineman Eddy Parker was another Class of 2003 casualty. He suffered chronic injuries over his first three years of competition with the Yellow Jackets and gave up football in the spring. He remains at Tech, on scholarship under medical hardship rules, as he continues to work toward his degree.

Attrition aside, the 2003 class' underdog status and extensive experience are paying off this season. Every senior class considers itself special, and Georgia Tech's 2003 group is no exception.

Yet when Anoai talks about chemistry with his class, it's more than just false bravado.

"There is an accountability here that is very important," Anoai said. "This season, if we don't make a BCS bowl, we're not going to be happy with it. Really. And if we don't get it done, it's (the players') fault."

Gailey recognizes something different in his fourth-year players as well. They have been through plenty since that February signing day.

Several were forced into early action when 10 veteran players failed out of school in May 2003. They weathered a long NCAA investigation that resulted in probation. They posted several big victories and suffered just as many catastrophic defeats.

"They understand adversity, and they understand handling anything that's thrown at them," Gailey said. "I think they understand playing away from home as well as any group I've ever been around. They have a great understanding of the ups and downs of a football season."

One of the few drawbacks to the class is the fact that so many of them will exhaust their eligibility this fall. The NCAA sanctions undercut Gailey's last two recruiting classes, and the lack of depth is sure to show once Anoai, Ball, Hall, Wrotto and Scott finish their careers a few months from now.

That can't be helped, Gailey said, and Tech's circumstances likely will press several members of its heralded Class of 2007 into early playing time, too.

"You do what you have to do," Gailey said. "Ideally, you'd like to redshirt every freshman in every class, but sometimes that's not the case. You're trying to win every season. You can't think four years ahead."

- Adam Van Brimmer, Morris News

GEORGIA TECH

Recruits: 22 Points: 180 (8.2 per)

All-ACC Selections/Candidates: 5

Starters: 11 % Starters: 50.0

Second Team: 4 % Contributors: 68.2

Missing (Dismissed/Left) Players: 4


FL DE Joe Anoai* Three-Year Starter (DT)

GA QB Reggie Ball* Four-Year Starter

GA PK Travis Bell^ Three-Year Starter

FL QB Pat Carter Transfer/Louisville

FL WR Chris Dunlap* Second Team

FL DB Brian Fleuridor Medical 2005

GA DB Joe Gaston# Starter

FL RB Rashaun Grant Second Team

TX LB KaMichael Hall* Three-Year Starter

TX LB Nick Moore Transfer/Baylor

FL DT LeShawn Newberry Second Team (OL)

FL DE Adamm Oliver Two-Year Starter

TX OL Eddy Parker Medical 2006

TX QB Al Pena Transfer/Oklahoma State

FL LB Kyle Pupello Dismissed/Florida

TX OL Matt Rhodes Three-Year Starter

GA DB Avery Roberson Second Team

FL DB Kenny Scott* Three-Year Starter

OH OL Kevin Tuminello Two-Year Starter

GA LB Philip Wheeler Two-Year Starter

GA DB Sam Williams Career Reserve

GA DT Mansfield Wrotto* Four-Year Starter

^ – 2003 walk-on ! – I-A transfer # – injured
* – never redshirted/exhausts eligibility this fall




BC SUCCESS RATE: 80 PERCENT

CHESTNUT HILL - Tom O'Brien met the Boston media on the afternoon of Feb. 5, 2003, and talked about how pleased he was with the collection of faxes that had come across his desk earlier in the day.

"We're very excited about this outstanding group of young men," the BC coach said that day. "I want to congratulate our coaching staff on a job well done. This is a tremendous class of student-athletes, talented in many different positions."

As is always the case with a group of recruits, you just never know. Guys get hurt, others leave, still others don't pan out for a variety of reasons.

But O'Brien's optimism that day turned out to be justified. Four years later, 60 percent of his signees rank as starters for the Eagles, and 80 percent have contributed somewhere on the two-deep. In recruiting, those are great numbers.

"This '03 group is a really good group, no question about it, but I think it's indicative of most of our classes," O'Brien said. "Most of the classes we've had, the kids have contributed in some way."

But there are those variables. For instance, as BC recruiting coordinator Jerry Petercuskie pointed out, the 2002 group that sent Mathias Kiwanuka and Will Blackmon to the NFL also had linemen Jeremy Simpson and Jim Unis, two promising prospects Petercuskie felt "would have been playing on Sundays." Instead, they got hurt.

The 2003 class - 25 players, including transfers Paul Peterson and Mark Palmer - turned out to be outstanding. The national recruiting services pegged the Eagles' bunch anywhere from 25th in the nation to outside the top 50, and in this case the optimists proved to be far more accurate.

BC's bunch came through in a big way even though the kid regarded as probably the best pure athlete of the group - prep All-American Dorien Bryant - didn't qualify academically. He signed a letter of intent, and he went to prep school with BC hoping that he'd eventually make it to Chestnut Hill. But Bryant ultimately wound up at Purdue, and he still makes many of the Eagles and their staff and fans wince every time he makes a big play for the Boilermakers.

The key to the class? Easy. Any coach loves to get one productive quarterback in a class, one who can contribute as a starter at some point. O'Brien wound up with two, and they both turned into stars at The Heights.

Peterson and Matt Ryan, two signal-callers who came to BC from totally different angles, both wound up not only as starters, but major players. The class was loaded with future starters - 14 of them are starting this fall for a top-25 team - but the headliners were the quarterbacks.

Peterson, who had done two years of mission work in Nicaragua, was an older-than-normal junior college All-American at Snow College in Utah who finished his time there and really had no place to go. So he did what any enterprising young man looking for a place to play would do; he sent videotapes out all over the country. It turned out that BC, a program that has taken very few juco products over the years, already was interested.

"We decided we needed an older kid, a stop-gap guy," Petercuskie said. "We looked at all the junior college quarterbacks in the country, and he happened to be rated No. 1."

The stopgap wound up being a star for the Eagles. He later played a year in the Canadian Football League, before winding up at Brigham Young as an intern assistant. He even visited BC earlier this season, when his Cougars lost to the Eagles in double overtime.

Ryan was a more traditional recruit, coming to the Eagles (over Georgia Tech, Iowa and Purdue) from the Philadelphia area as the 26th-ranked quarterback in the country by Rivals.com. His uncle, John Loughery, was BC's starting quarterback in 1980.

Both Peterson and Ryan would get involved in battles and odd manpower situations with Quinton Porter, who was already there, and with each other. Both 2003 signees would excel. In fact, through BC's win at Florida State this fall, Ryan, who has been hobbled all season by a left foot injury but still was leading the ACC in passing, and Peterson were a combined 23-4 as BC starters.

Peterson was 40-for-58 for 480 yards and four touchdowns in two bowl wins and was the MVP in one. Ryan was the MVP in last year's MPC Computers Bowl, and (as a redshirt junior) he likely has two more postseason appearances ahead.

Peterson started and won the last three games of the 2003 campaign - saving the Eagles' season in the process - and then won his first three in 2004, making him the only BC starter ever to begin with six straight wins. When Peterson was named the 2004 starter, Porter was redshirted as a senior, with Ryan as the backup.

Ryan had to start for the injured Peterson in the final regular-season game, which the Eagles lost. Ryan would start the 2005 season behind Porter, but he then came on and went 5-0 as a starter, not suffering his second loss until BC lost at N.C. State this year. He sprained his left ankle in the season opener this fall, then hurt another part of the same foot in the big Thursday win over Virginia Tech.

But this class doesn't stop at quarterback. A look at the 2006 roster shows 13 other starters, along with Ryan.

On offense, there are representatives of the Class of 2003 almost everywhere you look. There's the top two running backs (L.V. Whitworth, Andre Callender) and the fullback (Palmer). There's the starting tight end (Ryan Thompson) and a backup (prep star Trey Koziol). There's wide receiver Kevin Challenger, a Canadian import. And there's five members of the line's two-deep, including three-year starter Gosder Cherilus. Ryan Poles and Ty Hall battled for one starting spot this season, with Poles becoming the starting left guard and Hall serving as his backup. Kevin Sheridan is the starting center.

On defense, you see end Nick Larkin, two of the three starting linebackers (Jolonn Dunbar, Tyronne Pruitt) and three of the four starting defensive backs, safety Ryan Glasper, cornerback DeJuan Tribble (also a kick and punt returner) and safety Jamie Silva.

Glasper, the only member of BC's 2003 class who played as a true freshman, also was one of the lower-rated "finds" of the group.

ACC fans also would have seen defensive lineman Danny Zepp, but a back injury ended his career early. He and defensive back Ray Lankford joined Bryant as the only members of the group not contributing this fall. Zepp is still in school. The whereabouts of Lankford, who left after last season, are unknown.

Tackle Justin Bell, who just recently rejoined the defensive line after missing a year and a half with an Achilles injury, probably would have been a starter by now if not for his various medical woes.

Back on signing day, Larkin, one of six kids from Ohio (O'Brien's home state) in the 2003 class, explained why he signed with BC over, say, a local power such as Ohio State.

"Ohio State is Ohio State," Larkin said. "I felt Ohio State - and a lot of guys I've talked to felt the same way - I felt Ohio State was just too big. You don't get that family-type atmosphere that you get at BC."

The running backs, Whitworth and Callender, sat out as redshirts in 2003, when veteran Derrick Knight was running for 1,721 yards, his second straight 1,000-yard season. But the pair then became the team's 1-2 punch in 2004, and they still share that role. BC hasn't had a 1,000-yard rusher since Knight (who capped a string of six straight such seasons for the program), but Whitworth and Callender easily clear it as a two-headed monster. The Eagles have done less running and pounding this year than in the past, as the gameplan has gone more to Ryan after serious graduation losses on the offensive line.

Meanwhile, Dunbar, a running back from Syracuse (BC always likes getting players from the city of its long-time Big East rival) and the 16th-rated running back in the country by one recruiting service, was identified as a defensive player right out of the gate. He moved to linebacker and is now one of BC's three captains. Ryan is another, and both have another year of eligibility ahead.

Cherilus, a monster lineman from nearby Somerville, Mass., was a four-star prospect who picked BC over Syracuse, Iowa, Michigan State, Pittsburgh and South Carolina. He has been to, and won, a bowl game every year since.

"BC was really the best school for me," the 6-7, 320-pound Cherilus said when he signed. "It's

not too far away (a few miles), and it's a national program."

It's also a program that has had some successful years - and perhaps a very big one this fall - with lots of help from the Class of 2003.

- Mike Shalin, ACCSports.com

BOSTON COLLEGE

Recruits: 25 Points: 205 (8.2 per)

All-ACC Selections/Candidates: 3

Starters: 15 % Starters: 60.0

Second Team: 5 % Contributors: 80.0

Missing (Dismissed/Left) Players: 2


OH OL Tom Anevski Second Team

VA DT Justin Bell Second Team

NJ DB Dorien Bryant Non-Qualifier/Purdue

NJ RB Andre Callender Second Team

CAN WR Kevin Challenger Starter

MA DT Gosder Cherilus Three-Year Starter (OT)

NY S Jolonn Dunbar Starter (LB)

CT S Ryan Glasper* Three-Year Starter

OH OL Ty Hall Second Team

IL TE Trey Koziol Career Reserve

PA DB Ray Lankford Left Team 2006

OH DE Nick Larkin Two-Year Starter

NJ DB Taji Morris Second Team

PA DB Brad Mueller Career Reserve

Utah FB Mark Palmer! Two-Year Starter

JC QB Paul Peterson Starter/Graduated

NY OL Ryan Poles Starter

MA DB Tyronne Pruitt Starter (LB)

PA QB Matt Ryan Starter

OH OL Kevin Sheridan Starter

RI DB Jamie Silva Two-Year Starter

OH DE Ryan Thompson Starter (TE)

OH DB DeJuan Tribble Two-Year Starter

MA RB L.V. Whitworth Three-Year Starter

KY DT Dan Zepp Medical 2004

^ – 2003 walk-on ! – I-A transfer # – injured
* – never redshirted/exhausts eligibility this fall




HYPE, CONTROVERSY HIT TERPS

COLLEGE PARK - Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen and his staff could not have had a stronger sales pitch during the 2002-03 recruiting campaign.

The Terrapins had raised their national profile significantly by compiling a 10-3 record and capturing the ACC championship in 2001. They followed that breakthrough campaign with an 11-win season and a berth in another major bowl in 2002, showing potential recruits that the program was not a one-hit wonder, as some rivals had suggested.

There were all sorts of other positives to sell as well. Friedgen was the consensus national coach of the year in his first season in College Park and had become a media darling. "In Fridge We Trust" was the new slogan for the program's fans, whose increased interest had resulted in improved attendance and financial contributions.

Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow and Friedgen were working on an ambitious plan to improve the football facilities with projects involving the Gossett Team House, Byrd Stadium and the adjacent practice complex.

Suffice it to say, Friedgen and his assistants were able to paint a very bright picture of Maryland football's future for high school seniors during the 2002-03 recruiting cycle. The Terps surely seemed like a team on the rise, both within the ACC and on a national level.

At the time, Maryland had a solid corps of recruiters to make the pitch. Recruiting coordinator Mike Locksley had proven his worth for several years under former coach Ron Vanderlinden and had forged deep, long-standing relationships with prep coaches in the Maryland-D.C.-Northern Virginia area.

Wide receivers coach James Franklin, another holdover from the Vanderlinden era, had assumed somewhat of an assistant recruiting coordinator's role and also enjoyed strong local and regional connections. Defensive line coach Dave Sollazzo was another friendly, outgoing guy who was developing a reputation as a strong recruiter.

Locksley, who grew up in nearby Prince George's County, was the main man locally. Franklin, who played and coached at East Stroudsburg, had strong ties in Pennsylvania. Sollazzo, from the same hometown (Harrison, N.Y.) as Friedgen, came across well to youngsters in New York and New Jersey.

Maryland, Virginia, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania would supply 14 of the Terps' 21 signees in February 2003.

Another bonus in the Terps' favor was the fact that the senior class in the Maryland-D.C.-Northern Virginia region was considered the strongest in history. There was a trio of consensus All-Americans in Baltimore Gilman defensive end Victor Abiamiri, Dunbar-D.C. tight end Vernon Davis and Brandywine Gwynn Park linebacker Wesley Jefferson. It was a class with unprecedented depth for the area, as there were no fewer than 10 other national-caliber recruits.

Locksley, who would leave the program prior to the 2003 season, had cultivated strong bonds with many of the local players. In fact, Locksley and Franklin had developed a strategy three years earlier designed at landing all of the elite prospects from the area, getting them on campus together many times so they could get to know one another and develop friendships.

The relationship between Locksley and Dunbar-D.C. coach Craig Jefferies helped deliver Davis, who was rated among the nation's top five tight ends by most scouting services and played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The Terps' final commitment of 2003, he chose Maryland over Florida, Miami and Virginia, among many others.

Locksley discovered Jefferson when he was just a sophomore starting alongside two other future Division I-A linebackers in Seth Mitchell (Michigan State) and Kellen Pruitt (Syracuse). Jefferson, a five-star recruit by Rivals.com and a Parade All-American, picked the Terps over Ohio State, Notre Dame and Miami just weeks before signing day.

Sollazzo took a liking to St. John's-D.C. defensive lineman Conrad Bolston when he attended the Maryland schoolboy camp in the summer of 2001. Those two would become quite close over the next two seasons, and Bolston chose Maryland over Ohio State and Boston College.

DeMatha quarterback Ryan Mitch, another SuperPrep All-American, was the first Maryland-D.C. product to get on board. Maryland got into the mix with Mitch when he was just a sophomore, and Friedgen got personally involved with the youngster's recruitment. Mitch became Maryland's initial commitment in June 2002, then helped recruit the other local standouts.

New Jersey tailback Lance Ball was the second commitment of the class and was considered somewhat of a steal by the staff. He had offers from the likes of Boston College, Iowa, Rutgers and Syracuse, but he was swayed by the persistence of Sollazzo and the potential of Maryland.

Another extremely early commitment came from wide receiver Drew Weatherly, who would become the 2002 Gatorade player of the year in Delaware. The Terps had the ball rolling by late summer, and offensive linemen Brock Choate (Montoursville, Pa.), Garrick Clig (Port Orange, Fla.) and Andrew Crummey (Van Wert, Ohio) all committed before the end of September.

Maryland finished tremendously strong on the recruiting trail that season, securing commitments from Davis, Jefferson and two other highly coveted prospects - local running back Keon Lattimore (Baltimore Mount St. Joseph) and Pennsylvania offensive lineman Brandon Nixon - in the last two months before signing day.

Franklin raised his stock as a recruiter by landing Lattimore and Nixon. He used his life-long ties in Pennsylvania to beat Penn State on its home turf for Nixon, a player Joe Paterno wanted badly. Franklin out-dueled Miami for a legacy in Lattimore, the younger brother of Baltimore Ravens linebacker (and former UM star) Ray Lewis. The Terps guaranteed Lattimore a chance to play offense, while the Hurricanes recruited him as a defensive back.

Maryland almost finished off the 2003 recruiting class with a bang, but a scandal cost the program a commitment from Abiamiri, rated the nation's No. 1 defensive end by most evaluators. The Terps previously laid the groundwork by signing Rob and Paschal Abiamiri and, by all accounts, the youngest brother wanted to join them in College Park.

However, the final piece of an impressive recruiting puzzle was lost when it was revealed that assistant Rod Sharpless had given Abiamiri money to buy a video game. Reportedly, Gilman teammate Ambrose Wooden - a nationally rated defensive back who already had committed to Notre Dame and wanted Victor to join him - blew the whistle on Sharpless, after finding out how his best friend paid for an X-Box console.

Abiamiri wound up committing to Notre Dame, where he has been a four-year starter and standout performer. The 6-4, 270-pounder was named the Irish's lineman of the year in 2005 and is considered a likely first-round NFL draft pick.

Ultimately, Maryland's 21-member recruiting class was rated fifth or sixth in the nine-team ACC and 25th to 35th nationally. Friedgen understandably was thrilled by the haul, calling it the finest class in recent Maryland history.

"I think this class addresses some specific needs that we had in this program," Friedgen said. "We have dramatically increased our speed at the skill positions and significantly improved our height and growth potential at all positions."

Maryland's Class of 2003 has turned out to be solid, producing nine starters and six second-stringers. Five signees did not conclude their college careers in College Park, an average number by ACC standards.

Davis, as expected, made the biggest impact, developing into a consensus All-American and leaving one year early for the NFL. Center Robert Jenkins, whom the staff was counting on to become a two-year starter, was probably the biggest disappointment.

Jenkins, who originally signed with Virginia out of Milford Academy, chose Maryland over Penn State, Florida and Syracuse after spending two seasons at Nassau (N.Y.) Community College. The 6-2, 300-pounder enrolled in January and had academic difficulties from the outset, redshirting in 2003 to focus on grades, then sitting out every game for the same reason in 2004. He was dismissed from the program prior to the 2005 campaign, although he had one year of eligibility remaining.

Robert Armstrong was another highly regarded lineman who endured a checkered career in College Park. Armstrong, like Jenkins, originally committed to Virginia, coming out of Washington Lee High in nearby Arlington, Va. He did not qualify academically and spent 2002 at Fork Union Military Academy, then enrolled at Maryland in January 2003.

A naturally strong 6-4, 327-pound nose guard, Armstrong played in 23 games and recorded 28 total tackles as a true freshman and sophomore. However, the coaching staff constantly questioned his work ethic and drive.

Armstrong angered Friedgen by sitting out most of preseason practice in 2005 and wound up taking a redshirt year because of a nagging back injury that team trainers questioned. Armstrong was slated to be a starter this season but was declared ineligible by the university. He quickly enrolled at Division I-AA Morgan State, where he is starting this fall and performing well.

Mitch, who was considered the first blue-chip quarterback recruit of the Friedgen era, never made a dent on the depth chart and wound up quitting football after playing in just one game, as a redshirt freshman in 2004. The 6-1, 217-pounder left the team in the preseason, but he was persuaded to return by Friedgen. He chose to remain at Maryland as a student, rather than transfer down a level to continue his gridiron career.

Choate left the program after the 2004 season, without ever playing in a game. Defensive end Patrick Powell (Richmond, Va.) transferred to Massachusetts between semesters, after also having spent two seasons on the scout team.

Perhaps the most productive member of the 2003 class behind Davis is Bolston, who has appeared in 37 career games, made 27 starts and recorded 85 tackles. Josh Wilson, a DeMatha Catholic product and son of former Maryland fullback Tim Wilson, is another four-year standout, having played in 39 games with 21 starts and 126 tackles.

One of the more pleasant surprises has been tight end Joey Haynos, who joined the program in 2003 as a walk-on and became a starter this season. The 6-8, 267-pound product of Gonzaga-D.C., now on scholarship, is the team's second-leading receiver, with 17 catches for 189 yards and two touchdowns.

- Bill Wagner, Annapolis (Md.) Capital

MARYLAND

Recruits: 22 Points: 140 (6.4 per)

All-ACC Selections/Candidates: 2

Starters: 9 % Starters: 45.5

Second Team: 6 % Contributors: 72.7

Missing (Dismissed/Left) Players: 5


VA DT Robert Armstrong Transfer/Morgan State

NJ RB Lance Ball Starter

DC DT Conrad Bolston* Three-Year Starter

GA LB Tim Cesa Starter (FB)

PA OL Brock Choate Left Team 2005

FL OL Garrick Clig Second Team

OH OL Andrew Crummey Two-Year Starter

DC WR Vernon Davis Starter/NFL

NY QB/TE Dan Gronkowski Enrolled 2004

MD TE Joey Haynos^ Starter

MD LB Wesley Jefferson Starter

NY JC OL Robert Jenkins Academics 2005

MD WR Keon Lattimore Second Team (RB)

FL LB Jermaine Lemons# Second Team (DE)

MD QB Ryan Mitch Left Team 2005

NC DT Dre Moore Second Team

PA OL Brandon Nixon Suspended 2006

VA DE Patrick Powell Transfer/Massachusetts

NJ DE Omarr Savage Second Team

DE WR Drew Weatherly* Second Team

MD DB Josh Wilson* Two-Year Starter

FL OL Donnie Woods Two-Year Starter

^ – 2003 walk-on ! – I-A transfer # – injured
* – never redshirted/exhausts eligibility this fall




DEACONS SOLID THROUGH 2007

WINSTON-SALEM - It didn't take Jim Grobe long to understand recruiting at Wake Forest.

The Class of 2003 was Grobe's second full recruiting cycle, and he was honest on signing day.

"We are in the development business at Wake Forest," he said, "and I think over the next four or five years, this is a class that will turn out to be special."

There were no thoughts of immediate impact, no grand guarantees for the future. Grobe already knew his strategies - identify players before the big schools offer, find players who fit his system, look for talent that's kept out of the limelight by injury. Then develop the heck out of them and hope for a payoff.

So, how did the development business go? Not perfectly, but if you play those kinds of recruiting odds, it never will be. A number of players from the 2003 class are having important roles in Wake's big 2006 season, and the best news for the Demon Deacons is that all but one (Jyles Tucker) will return for a fifth year in 2007.

Several things about the class were typical for Wake. Grobe's "diamond in the rough" style had formed, and the class was strong on academics (no entrance casualties) and low on rankings. Not one player was rated a four- or five-star player by any service, and the overall class was ahead of only Duke in the ACC.

But two differences stand out. First, Grobe was recruiting from a position of strength, which is almost non-existent in Wake history. A number of players mentioned being able to contribute quickly to a program on the rise. Grobe had winning seasons in his first two years in Winston-Salem, and he tacked on a Seattle Bowl victory before signing day to help ink a few more.

"When we went to the Seattle Bowl, I think we had 17 or 18 guys already committed by then," Grobe said. "What it may have done was solidify their commitments, and it could have helped us get some commitments down the stretch. There weren't too many people we were into that didn't see the game and watch us play and thought that it probably would be a good place to play football."

That leads to the second difference: Wake signed 23 players, generally a huge class for a school that doesn't see much turnover from academic problems.

"We really didn't want to," Grobe said of signing that many. But the late-season success drove interest, and Wake added more players.

It's a good thing, too, because Grobe's batting average was lower in this class than in most of his others. While he developed 11 starters (most of whom will be multi-year starters by the time their careers end), he also missed on eight players, and a ninth (Brodie Overstreet) didn't contribute because of an injury.

At the time, the class was headlined by quarterback Ben Mauk, who was setting national passing marks. Grobe and his staff mined their Ohio connections with Mauk's father (also his coach), and Mauk committed very early, before schools such as Penn State, LSU and Iowa could formalize their offers.

Grobe had to sweat the fact that some big schools continued to talk with Mauk. But in the end, Mauk's letter of intent was the first to arrive with the Demon Deacons on signing day.

"Ben is the type of character kid that, once he tells you something, that's it," Grobe said. "A lot of people did try and come back on Ben, but once he made his decision to come to Wake Forest, we felt solid in that."

So far, Mauk is looking like Grobe's latest Ohio bust, after much-hyped Bryan Andrews the year before. Mauk opened last season as Wake's starter, but he had to be benched in favor of former starter Cory Randolph. This year, Mauk again started, but he will miss the rest of the season because of injury. If he does return, he may not be able to get the starting job back from Riley Skinner.

Wake signed another QB in 2003: Bruce Hall. He left Wake after one season and went to Troy, then Northeast (Miss.) Community College. He signed with Ole Miss in 2006 and is playing running back for the Rebels this fall.

So if Mauk is no longer the headliner for the class, who is? That's easy: Jon Abbate.

Grobe said Wake hadn't even planned to take a linebacker in the class, but it couldn't pass on Abbate - even though all of the other major programs did. Abbate wasn't quite big enough or fast enough to fit the prototype, but the bigger schools failed to factor in his relentlessness.

It was obvious as soon as Abbate hit the practice field at Wake that he was something special, and he's been the leading tackler and an All-ACC performer ever since he could get in a game.

Abbate led an impressive seven-player haul out of Georgia for Wake, as Grobe's staff solidified its foothold in the South.

The Deacons still were trying to find their way in North Carolina in 2003, as they landed only three in-state players. Guard Matt Brim and receiver Kenneth Moore are now starters, and receiver Delon Lowe rarely plays. A fourth in-state player, Monte Anthony from Winston-Salem Carver, actually was the first commitment of the class, but he and Wake drifted apart for academic reasons. Anthony now plays at Division I-AA Norfolk State.

Looking at the class by position, the real strength is along the lines, traditionally a weaker spot for Wake. The Deacons focused on the defensive line and signed five, in addition to four on the offensive line.

On defense, Aaron McKenzie and Jeromy Jones left school without contributing, but the other three are starters. Tucker was pressed into action right away, and Zach Stukes worked his way into the lineup this season. The third is Matt Robinson, who has been sidelined this year with a broken kneecap.

Robinson and Tucker both received a good deal of attention from BCS schools. Tucker detoured to Hargrave Military Academy first, and Robinson chose Wake over Boston College and Georgia Tech. Robinson's biggest attribute was clear, even then.

"His motor goes from the time he hits the field and never stops," said his high school coach, Everett Kelley. "He's the most intense player we've seen in 20 years here."

That made Robinson a factor at defensive end last fall, and it should help him return next year from injury.

Along the offensive line, Grobe really went four-for-four, even though Overstreet's injuries sidelined him. That's a pretty remarkable feat, considering that offensive line is one of the toughest positions to fill at the college level.

"We went after more big guys in this class," Grobe said. "Guys that had the potential to be great. Last year's class in the offensive line, we went more for the tackle-type guys, guys with quicker feet. We've got a little more size in this class."

The best of the class is center Steve Justice, a two-year starter and a strong All-ACC candidate this fall. In addition, Grobe landed starters Brim and Louis Frazier, who also is an excellent student.

Brim originally announced for East Carolina, and Grobe said Wake was unimpressed with Brim as a high school junior. But his rapid improvement as a senior made the Deacons take another look, and Brim decided to stay with the hometown school.

Overstreet appeared to be a real find for Wake, which signed him over Kentucky, Boston College and West Virginia. But he suffered a detached right retina as a senior in high school, and he redshirted as a freshman. He started the 2004 opener, but then was sidelined for the rest of the year because of a problem with his left eye. Overstreet returned in the spring of 2005, but he was told early that fall that he couldn't play again. He is still at Wake Forest as a student.

Grobe was honest on signing day about the weaknesses in the class, and those predictions have panned out.

"If you looked at our class and asked where we possibly could have been a little better, we would have liked to possibly have had another running back and would have liked very possibly to have taken another wide receiver or big receiver," Grobe said. "I think we have our ends taken care of at the slot back position, but we were looking for a tall wideout in this class."

Wake is paying for its running back issues right now. The Deacons signed two running backs in 2003, Micah Andrews and Travo Woods. They also signed De'Angelo Bryant as a safety but later moved him to running back.

Andrews, the son of former NFL running back William Andrews, received the most attention after a great prep career, and he has shown flashes of greatness at Wake. He finally took over as the featured back this season, only to be felled by a knee injury.

That's where the depth issue comes into play. Woods was another Grobe longshot, hampered by an ankle injury as a prep senior, and he's not an ACC-caliber back. Bryant has been inconsistent.

In high school, Bryant played quarterback, running back, linebacker and returned kicks. He saw some quick success at Wake, playing as a freshman because of injuries in front of him. But fumbles and his own injuries have bothered him, although an injury did give him a chance to reclaim his redshirt year. Given the chance to take over for Andrews this fall, Bryant failed and is now on the bench.

At wide receiver, Grobe found two contributors out of three, but none of them has been a real impact player. Lowe, at 6-4, could have been that big receiver, but he's been a washout. It appeared that Moore might be as well, but he's finally come on this season under new receivers coach Tim Billings.

A typical Wake story is that of the third receiver, Kevin Marion. After an ACL injury, he didn't play at all as a prep senior. But Grobe knew of Marion's speed from his track performances and believed Wake could develop him. Marion's career has been inconsistent, but he's starting to make an impact as a receiver and a kick returner.

A spot where Grobe thought Wake had recruited well actually turned out to be the worst position in the class: the secondary. Devin Blake, who originally committed to Tulane, is no longer at Wake, and Johnny Edwards and Aaron Mason have been career reserves. Edwards, who originally committed to Vanderbilt, actually was ranked higher in Georgia than Robinson.

The Deacons landed two tight ends who have played extensively, Zac Selmon and John Tereshinski. Selmon is the son of Dewey and the nephew of Leroy and Lucius, who all starred at Oklahoma, which didn't show interest in Zac. Wake signed Selmon, who is more of a receiving tight end than other Grobe recruits at that position, over Rice. Tereshinski, whose brother Joe is a quarterback at Georgia, picked Wake over Vanderbilt.

In hindsight, Wake's Class of 2003 had a number of misses and not many stars. But the class also provided a number of the players who are the foundation for the team's surprising 2006 season and for the program's optimism for 2007.

WAKE FOREST

Recruits: 23 Points: 145 (6.3 per)

All-ACC Selections/Candidates: 2

Starters: 11 % Starters: 47.8

Second Team: 3 % Contributors: 60.9

Missing (Dismissed/Left) Players: 4


GA LB Jon Abbate Three-Year Starter

GA RB Micah Andrews# Starter

FL DB Devin Blake Left Team 2004

NC OL Matt Brim Three-Year Starter

SC RB De'Angelo Bryant Second Team

GA DB Johnny Edwards Career Reserve

FL OL Louis Frazier Starter

FL QB Bruce Hall Transfer/Mississippi

GA DT Jeromy Jones Transfer/South Carolina

FL OL Steve Justice Two-Year Starter

NC WR Delon Lowe Career Reserve

FL WR Kevin Marion Second Team

KY DB Aaron Mason Career Reserve

OH QB Ben Mauk# Two-Year Starter

FL DT Aaron McKenzie Transfer/SE Missouri St.

NC DB Kenneth Moore Starter (WR)

KY OL Brodie Overstreet Medical 2005

GA DE Matt Robinson# Two-Year Starter

OK TE Zac Selmon Three-Year Starter

GA DE Zach Stukes Two-Year Starter (DT)

GA TE John Tereshinski Second Team

NJ/VA DE Jyles Tucker* Three-Year Starter

FL RB Travo Woods Career Reserve

^ – 2003 walk-on ! – I-A transfer # – injured
* – never redshirted/exhausts eligibility this fall




FRANKS' LAST CLASS HURT DUKE

DURHAM - Ever wonder why Duke is so dreadful on the football field this season?

Well, when you check out the Blue Devils' 2003 recruiting class, one reason for the team's struggles becomes painfully obvious. Duke's current senior class has to rank as one of the most unproductive hauls in modern ACC history.

The original 14-man class has produced just one bona fide standout, one more solid multi-year starter and a handful of current starters who still are trying to prove that they are ACC-quality performers. Duke has gone 7-34 in their first 41 games in Durham.

"Coming here, I was sold on turning the program around," senior defensive tackle Casey Camero said. "Expectations were high - bowl contention every year. But as you take it game-by-game, year-by-year, that didn't happen."

Duke was 5-40 in the four seasons under coach Carl Franks before the Class of 2003 signed, including back-to-back 0-11 efforts in 2000 and 2001.

"I think it is a solid class," Franks said on signing day. "It is not as many as we have previously signed, but I think this has the chance to be the best class we've signed. I think we have improved every year. The quality of these guys has gotten better and better."

There appeared to be little reason for Franks' optimism, even at the time. Most Duke classes have ranked at or near the bottom of the ACC in recent years, but none has been so undistinguished as the Class of 2003. Only a handful of the 14 players signed by Franks that day had other Division I-A scholarship offers, and none of those were prospects who had the top schools drooling.

The highest-rated player in the class was kicker Alex Feinberg from Thomasville, Ga. He was rated the No. 4 kicking prospect in the nation by Rivals.com and the No. 49 overall prospect in Georgia by SuperPrep. Linebacker Corey Sobel of DeMatha Prep in Hyattsville, Md., was rated as that state's No. 11 prospect by SuperPrep. Minnesota defensive end Christopher Moore, West Virginia tight end Nick Stefanow and Florida running back Aaron Fryer also had a handful of other major college options.

Of course, Franks was not recruiting from a position of strength. His 5-40 record was the worst of any coach in ACC history after four seasons. Duke had gone 2-32 since his first year, and he was working on a 25-game ACC losing streak. His best selling point was the newly opened $22 million Yoh Football Center, touted as a sign of the university's commitment to football success.

The class included just one player from North Carolina, and he was a late recruiting coup by Franks. Greensboro's Deon Adams, who played quarterback at Smith High, originally committed to East Carolina but made a last-minute switch to Duke, where he was projected as a wide receiver.

Adams turned out to be a pretty good illustration for how Duke's Class of 2003 failed to live up to even its most modest expectations.

The converted quarterback saw extensive action in his first two seasons at Duke, but caught just one pass each year. He did score a touchdown on a reverse against Virginia Tech in his sophomore season. Adams had slightly more success as a junior, catching 10 passes for 100 yards. But his career came to an early end when he was dismissed from the team this summer, for an unspecified violation of team rules.

Adams remains in school and is expected to graduate with his class, but he is not going to rejoin the Duke football team.

Two other 2003 signees also dropped off the team. Sobel quit football after his freshman season. He also remains in school and should graduate with his class. Cornerback Cedric Mason of College Park, Ga., never played at Duke and transferred to Bethune-Cookman, where he's now a starting cornerback.

What does that leave?

Well, it leaves one legitimately outstanding player, in senior cornerback John Talley. The 5-11, 180-pound product of Duncan, S.C., was a modestly rated prospect out of Byrnes High. He played in 10 games as a true freshman at Duke and emerged as a standout as a sophomore, when he had five interceptions, including two he returned for touchdowns. He was a second-team All-ACC pick as a sophomore, then accomplished the incredible feat of earning first-team All-ACC honors for an 0-8 ACC team in 2005. His two recent picks against Florida State gave him 15 career interceptions (one short of the school record), which he has returned for an ACC-record 358 yards and three touchdowns.

"He's made big plays for us since he's been here," current Duke coach Ted Roof said of Talley.

Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, there's a pretty steep dropoff in the class after Talley.

Camero was overshadowed as a signee by his prep teammate, Fryer. But the 235-pound defensive end got on the field first, starting three times and playing in all 12 games as a true freshman. Over the years, Camero has added 45 pounds and moved inside. Although he's started every game since his sophomore season, it was only last year when he began to establish himself as a solid, if not spectacular, player. Through six games this season, Camero recorded 13 tackles and one sack and was one of the reasons Duke's front had been respectable.

"I feel like I could make plays in the past," Camero said, "but I feel like I wasn't an effective player until this year."

The same could be said of linebacker Jeramy Edwards, a high school safety from New Jersey who saw a lot of early action on special teams but recorded just 17 tackles in 17 games in 2003 and 2004. He's developing into a useful player, a solid run stopper at outside linebacker, just as his eligibility is running out.

That's part of the problem at Duke. The Blue Devils are so desperate for players that the staff rarely has the option of redshirting the team's best prospects. Roof can only dream of what Talley, Camero and Edwards would bring to the table as fifth-year seniors next fall.

Three members of the Class of 2003 did get to sit out their first year on campus and are now starting for the first time as redshirt juniors. Unfortunately, it's too early to anoint any of the three as an ACC-quality player.

Stefanow, the tight end from West Virginia, played only sparingly over the last two seasons behind veterans Ben Patrick and Andy Roland. But when Roland graduated and the talented Patrick transferred to Delaware, Stefanow was thrust into the starting lineup. His performance as a receiver so far has been modest - seven catches for 73 yards in his first six games, before suffering an injury against FSU. His receiving opportunities are limited by Duke's inept line, which often requires the tight end to help with protection.

Zack Maurides, a modestly recruited ex-wrestler from Glenview, Ill., is another redshirt junior who is starting for the first time. He saw little action over the last two seasons (fewer than 70 snaps in a total of six games) and has yet to distinguish himself as a starting guard on an offensive line that has been abused by opponents all year.

The fourth new full-time starter from 2003 is the player once regarded as the jewel of the class. Feinberg has never been able to earn playing time as a placekicker. It's a measure of his performance in practice that Roof has not turned to the Georgia product even as 2005 signee Joe Surgan has struggled. But Feinberg, after not seeing the field in his first three seasons at Duke, did earn the punting job this fall, beating out touted 2006 recruit Kevin Jones.

Unfortunately, Feinberg's punting has not been something worth waiting for. His average of 37.4 yards per kick is the worst of any ACC starter this season. He's had one kick blocked and a number returned for big yardage. Duke's net average of 28.7 is far and away the worst in the ACC.

Five other members of the Class of 2003 remain on the roster, but their contributions are limited.

The once-touted Fryer has done his best work on special teams. Roof, impressed by the senior's work ethic in practice, gave him a shot at running back earlier this season. The gesture proved disastrous, as Fryer fumbled into the end zone just before crossing the goal line at Alabama, a crucial mistake in a game the Devils might have won. Alex Williams and Brandon Tapps have seen limited duty as backup linebackers but get most of their playing time on special teams. Moore and Garrett Mason see very little action as reserve offensive linemen.

Seven members of the Class of 2003 will have one year of eligibility remaining after this season. However, Duke rarely brings marginal players back for their fifth year. Stefanow and maybe (depending on how much improvement he shows over the last half of the season) Maurides appear to be the only fifth-year candidates.

The nicest thing that can be said about the Blue Devils' Class of 2003 is that 13 of the 14 original signees are on track to graduate at Duke, which won't hurt the school's consistently stellar graduation rate.

But the group's performance on the field - beyond Talley, Camero and maybe Edwards and/or Stefanow - has done little to assuage the school's consistently dreadful performance there.

Camero, noting the major roles that he, Talley and Edwards have assumed this season, suggested, "I think our legacy will be to start a foundation for the really strong defenses Duke will have over the next few years. Just us going out and demonstrating our work ethic and having the younger guys watch us, I think it paves the way for future Duke defenses."

- Al Featherston, ACCSports.com

DUKE

Recruits: 14 Points: 70 (5.0 per)

All-ACC Selections/Candidates: 1

Starters: 6 % Starters: 42.9

Second Team: 0 % Contributors: 42.9

Missing (Dismissed/Left) Players: 3


NC WR Deon Adams Dismissed 2006

FL/PA DE Casey Camero* Three-Year Starter (DT)

NJ DB Jeramy Edwards* Starter (LB)

GA PK Alex Feinberg Starter (P)

FL RB Aaron Fryer Career Reserve

GA DB Cedric Mason Transfer/Bethune-Cookman

TX OL Garrett Mason Career Reserve

IL OL Zach Maurides Starter

MN DE Christopher Moore Career Reserve

MD LB Corey Sobel Left Team 2005

WV TE Nick Stefanow Starter

SC DB John Talley* Three-Year Starter

TX DB Brandon Tapps Career Reserve

GA LB Alex Williams* Career Reserve

^ – 2003 walk-on ! – I-A transfer # – injured
* – never redshirted/exhausts eligibility this fall




MIA: UNC'S 2003 RECRUITING CLASS STILL HAUNTING BUNTING

  The Tar Heels' signing-day class of 2003 was regarded by those who follow recruiting full-time as one of the 20 best in the country. Four football seasons later, however, in what should be the senior season for that class, UNC is struggling mightily. Half the players from the class are no longer on the team.









CLASS OF 2003:

YELLOW JACKETS, EAGLES CONSTRUCTED STRONG FOUNDATION

Rank/School New* Old^ Coach In 2003 Top-Rated Signees (Among 2003 Enrollees) Best Players (Among 2003 Enrollees)

  1. Georgia Tech A/8.2 C+/44 Chan Gailey Pat Carter, Rashaun Grant, Kenny Scott Reggie Ball, KaMichael Hall, Kenny Scott

  2. Boston College A/8.2 B/32 Tom O'Brien Andre Callender, Gosder Cherilus, Ryan Poles Matt Ryan, Jamie Silva, L.V. Whitworth

  3. Miami ??? A/5 Larry Coker Tyrone Moss, Greg Olsen, Kyle Wright Jon Beason, Greg Olsen, Kyle Wright

  4. Florida State ??? B/18 Bobby Bowden Antonio Cromartie, Chauncey Davis, Ernie Sims Antonio Cromartie, Chauncey Davis, Ernie Sims

  5. Maryland B/6.4 B/31 Ralph Friedgen Lance Ball, Vernon Davis, Wesley Jefferson Lance Ball, Vernon Davis, Josh Wilson

  6. Wake Forest B/6.3 C/NR Jim Grobe Micah Andrews, Ben Mauk, Brodie Overstreet Jon Abbate, Steve Justice, Matt Robinson

  7. N.C. State ??? A-/9 Chuck Amato Derek Morris, Marcus Stone, Mario Williams Stephen Tulloch, Tank Tyler, Mario Williams

  8. Virginia Tech ??? B/28 Frank Beamer Xavier Adibi, Tripp Carroll, Vince Hall Xavier Adibi, Chris Ellis, Vince Hall

  9. Clemson ??? C+/48 Tommy Bowden Tramaine Billie, C.J. Gaddis, Maurice Nelson Tramaine Billie, Jad Dean, Nick Watkins

  10. Virginia ??? B+/21 Al Groh Ahmad Brooks, Jordy Lipsey, Jonathan Stupar Ahmad Brooks, Jonathan Stupar, Deyon Williams

  11. North Carolina C+/5.0 B+/14 John Bunting Adarius Bowman, Mike Mason, Isaiah Thomas Larry Edwards, Jesse Holley, Kareen Taylor

  12. Duke D+/5.0 D+/NR Carl Franks Alex Feinberg, Christopher Moore, Nick Stefanow Casey Camero, Nick Stefanow, John Talley

Note:
* – revised grade/points per signee; 10 points per starter, 10 more for All-ACC players/candidates, five for second-teamers ??? – released next issue
^ – ratings given by ACC Sports Journal/consensus national ranking in 2003; Sports Journal rankings updated after academic attrition (fall 2003)