By Dave Glenn, ACC Sports Journal
August 27, 2005
Although a large majority of the prospects on the ACC Sports Journal's list of Fab 50 All-Americans remain available, commitments continue to pour in from Class of 2006 recruits at a hectic pace.
Led by unusually large figures at North Carolina (20, excluding transfers and 2005 holdovers) and Virginia (15), members of the rising senior class are announcing early pledges in what may be record numbers. Two years ago at this time, only one ACC program had more than eight early commitments. This year, six of the league's 12 teams already have nine or more prospects on board. The trend seems to be taking hold nationally as well, with more than 400 seniors selecting their Division
I-A destinations by late August.
"We're getting players to come on our campus (for summer camps and recruiting trips)," said fifth-year UNC coach John Bunting, who added that he thinks the Tar Heels are on the way to their best recruiting year since his arrival in Chapel Hill. "(Meeting prospects face-to-face earlier) has helped us make earlier offers. I think that's making a difference."
Of those on this year's Fabulous 50 list (see chart), which consists exclusively of elite high school seniors from the ACC's core Maryland-through-Florida geography, more than a dozen announced early commitments by late August.
Of that group, seven are preseason All-Americans who have chosen to play in the ACC: Asheville (NC) High DB Crezdon Butler (Clemson), Immokalee (FL) High RB Javarris James (Miami), North Charleston (SC) Ft. Dorchester defensive back Byron Maxwell (Clemson), Bamberg (SC) Bamberg-Ehrhardt defensive end Ricky Sapp (Clemson), Sarasota (FL) Booker WR Sam Shields (Miami), Asheville (NC) High tailback Johnny White (North Carolina) and Jacksonville (NC) White Oak defensive back Deunta Williams (North Carolina).
"We have to be the most powerful media league in the country," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "We're taking Boston, we're probably going to end up pulling part of New York and Philadelphia. You get Baltimore, Washington, Charlotte, Atlanta, Miami. That's pretty powerful. You want exposure as a recruit? As time goes on, the media coverage is going to get better. Eventually, every kid this side of the Mississippi is going to want to play in the ACC."
Butler, rated one of the top 10 (multi-position) athletes in the nation, committed to Clemson in August over UNC and N.C. State. He also had offers from Arkansas, Maryland, Nebraska, South Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and West Virginia. A first-team all-conference selection, while playing mostly quarterback and cornerback, he ran for more than 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns and threw for more than 700 yards and five TDs as a junior. He benches 285 pounds, squats 385 and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. Butler, who wants to study engineering and eliminated many schools because they didn't have the appropriate course of studies, has a 2.9 GPA and a 900 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Tigers is defensive ends coach Marion Hobby.
James, rated one of the top 25 running backs in the nation, picked Miami in August over Florida, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Southern California. He also had offers from Clemson, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Oklahoma State. James is a cousin of star Indianapolis Colts running back Edgerrin James, formerly of Miami. A first-team Class 2A all-state selection, Javarris rushed 225 times for 1,668 yards and 28 touchdowns as a junior, with 10 receptions for 210 yards and three TDs. He ran for more than 1,200 yards and 20 scores as a sophomore, and more than 800 yards and 16 TDs as a freshman. He runs the 40 in 4.55 seconds. With a 2.4 GPA and a 16 ACT score, he must improve his academic credentials to qualify. His main recruiter with the Hurricanes is offensive line coach Art Kehoe, and he said he also has a strong relationship with wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson.
"I've been wearing Miami's colors since I was three years old," James said. "I was the mascot for Edgerrin's team back when he played Pop Warner (football), and at the games I wore a Miami jersey my dad bought for me. I talked with the (UM) coaches about things, and they said they weren't recruiting me just because of Edgerrin, that they would be recruiting me no matter what my name is. I liked that. This is my team. Playing for the Hurricanes is going to be a dream come true for me."
Maxwell, rated one of the top 25 defensive backs in the nation, selected Clemson in June over Duke and Georgia. He also had offers from Florida, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Maryland, Nebraska, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Virginia Tech. As a junior, he had 60 tackles and picked off five passes, returning one for a touchdown. He also returned a punt for a score. He will miss the 2005 season because of a serious (ACL) knee injury he suffered this summer while playing basketball. He benches 275 pounds, squats 350 and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. He has a 2.8 GPA and a qualifying ACT score. His main recruiter with the Tigers is running backs coach Burton Burns.
Sapp, rated one of the top 25 defensive linemen in the nation, opted for Clemson in June over Florida State, Georgia and N.C. State. He also had offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Louisville, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia Tech, among others. A first-team all-state selection, Sapp had 67 tackles (25 for loss) and 11 sacks as a junior. He benches 295 pounds, squats 590 and runs the 40 in 4.55 seconds. He must improve his academic credentials to qualify. His main recruiter with the Tigers is outside linebackers coach Ron West.
"Ricky is one of those kids where you have to look into the future a little bit to see why everyone is so excited about him," Bamberg-Ehrhardt coach Ron Duncan said. "He's a great athlete and a great player now, but if you look at his (6-4, 225) frame, he'll be able to add a lot of weight without losing his athleticism. He's quick enough right now that he could play linebacker, but I think Clemson is looking at him for their bandit (specialized defensive end) position. As hard as he works, he'll be fine wherever they put him."
Shields, rated one of the top 25 wide receivers in the nation, committed to Miami in May over a scholarship offer from LSU, plus interest from Florida and Florida State (childhood favorite). He also had offers from Alabama, Duke, Iowa, Louisville, Mississippi, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, South Carolina and Tennessee. As a junior, he had 20 receptions for 566 yards and eight touchdowns, despite missing five games with a sprained knee. He also had kickoff returns of 80 and 74 yards for scores. As a sophomore, he had 24 catches for 850 yards and 12 TDs. He has a 2.6 GPA and an 820 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Hurricanes is wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson.
"I really liked all three of the big in-state schools, and I liked all the coaches, but the more I looked at everything, the more it pointed back to Miami," Shields said. "Florida and Florida State have a lot of young receivers, and Miami didn't sign any (receivers) last year. (The Hurricanes are) going to lose a couple of their receivers after this year, too. I want to play early, and at Miami I think I'll have a chance to play, maybe even start, as a freshman."
White, rated one of the top 25 running backs in the nation, opted for North Carolina in July over South Carolina. He also had an offer from Arkansas, plus serious interest and/or conditional (on academics) offers from Clemson, Georgia, Maryland, N.C. State, Virginia Tech, Tennessee and Wake Forest. As a junior, he rushed for more than 2,200 yards and 39 touchdowns. As a sophomore, he rushed for more than 1,100 yards in a part-time role. He benches 305 pounds, squats 415 and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. He must significantly improve his academic credentials to qualify. His main recruiter with the Tar Heels is running backs coach Andre Powell.
"There aren't many running backs in high school who have the pure physical strength that (White) has, so he'll be a lot more ready for college in that way as soon as he gets there," Asheville coach Danny Wilkins said. "Johnny has liked UNC for a long time, but I think what really got things rolling was when Coach Bunting came down here this spring. They developed a good relationship. When Johnny got to meet more of the coaches and then visited the campus and the facilities, that helped everything fall into place."
Williams, rated one of the top 25 defensive backs in the nation, chose North Carolina in July over N.C. State and South Carolina. He also had offers from Clemson, Duke, ECU, Maryland, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Virginia and Virginia Tech. As a junior, Deunta (pronounced dee-UN-tay) had seven interceptions as a safety on defense, plus 16 receptions for 400-plus yards and 11 touchdowns as a wide receiver on offense. He benches 295 pounds, squats 455 and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. He has a 3.6 GPA and a qualifying SAT score. His main recruiter with the Tar Heels is defensive ends coach Brad Lawing.
"When I'm in Chapel Hill, it feels like home," Williams said. "I feel like I'm really close to the coaches there, and I like the direction of the program because it's on the rise. They're building it from the ground up, and they're doing it the right way. There are other good football teams and there are other good schools, but at a lot of places it's one or the other. When you look at the combination of those two things, it's hard to beat Carolina."
ACC AREA PRESEASON FABULOUS 50
|Josh Adams||RB||6-0/170||Cary (NC) High|
|Ben Alexander||DT||6-0/285||Anderson (SC) Hanna|
|Justin Anderson||OL||6-4/315||Ocilla (GA) Irwin County|
|Marcus Ball||LB/DB||6-0/205||Stone Mountain (GA) Stephenson|
|Chris Bell||WR||6-3/205||Norfolk (VA) Granby|
|Navorro Bowman||LB||6-0/220||Forestville (MD) Suitland|
|Carlos Brown||RB||6-0/195||Franklin (GA) Heard County|
|Crezdon Butler||DB||6-0/175||Asheville (NC) High|
|Brandon Caleb||WR||6-1/195||Fork Union (VA) Military|
|Riley Cooper||DB||6-3/210||Clearwater (FL) Central Catholic|
|Jermaine Cunningham||DE||6-4/210||Stone Mountain (GA) Stephenson|
|Jarred Fayson||WR/DB||6-0/185||Tampa (FL) Hillsborough|
|Darius Gaither||DB||6-0/195||Winnsboro (SC) Fairfield Central|
|Clifton Geathers||OL/DT||6-7/280||Georgetown (SC) Carvers Bay|
|Percy Harvin||WR||5-11/185||Virginia Beach (VA) Landstown|
|Akeem Hebron||LB/DB||6-1/195||Wheaton (MD) Good Counsel|
|Ryan Hill||DB||6-0/180||Tallahassee (FL) Rickards|
|Jamar Hornsby||WR/DB||6-3/195||Jacksonville (FL) Sandalwood|
|Richard Jackson||WR||6-2/195||Clermont (FL) East Ridge|
|Javarris James||RB||6-0/205||Immokalee (FL) High|
|Carl Johnson||OL||6-6/350||Durham (NC) Southern|
|A.J. Jones||LB/DB||6-2/190||Tampa (FL) Middleton|
|Reshad Jones||DB||6-1/180||Atlanta (GA) Washington|
|Antonio Logan-El||OL||6-4/310||Forestville (MD) High|
|Byron Maxwell||DB||6-0/180||North Charleston (SC) Ft. Dorchester|
|Damon McDaniel||WR||5-11/190||Virginia Beach (VA) Landstown|
|Jarrell Miller||LB||6-3/230||Highland Springs (VA) High|
|Prince Miller||DB||5-9/185||Duncan (SC) Byrnes|
|Aleric Mullins||DT||6-3/285||Wendell (NC) East Wake|
|Adam Patterson||DT/DE||6-2/260||Columbia (SC) Richland Northeast|
|D'Vontrey Richardson||QB/DB||6-1/205||Leesburg (GA) Lee County|
|Ricky Sapp||DE||6-4/225||Bamberg (SC) Bamberg-Ehrhardt|
|Sam Shields||WR||6-0/180||Sarasota (FL) Booker|
|Marcus Sims||RB/LB||6-0/215||Tallahassee (FL) N. Fla. Christian|
|Chris Slaughter||WR||6-2/170||Ft. Valley (GA) Peach County|
|Brandon Spikes||LB||6-4/235||Shelby (NC) Crest|
|C.J. Spiller||RB||5-10/185||Lake Butler (FL) Union County|
|Alex Stadler||OL||6-5/295||Bealeton (VA) Liberty|
|Benjamin Tate||RB||5-10/205||Snow Hill (MD) High|
|Phillip Taylor||DT||6-3/350||Brandywine (MD) Gwynn Park|
|Tim Tebow||QB||6-3/215||St. Augustine (FL) Nease|
|Kiante Tripp||OL||6-5/250||Atlanta (GA) Westlake|
|A.J. Wallace||RB/DB||6-0/195||Pomfret (MD) McDonough|
|J.B. Walton||OL||6-3/275||Indian Head (MD) Lackey|
|Johnny White||RB||5-10/190||Asheville (NC) High|
|Brian Whitmore||DT/DE||6-3/250||Chesapeake (VA) Smith|
|Deunta Williams||DB||6-3/195||Jacksonville (NC) White Oak|
|Tony Wilson||WR/DB||5-10/170||Daytona Beach (FL) Mainland|
|Brandon Wood||DE||6-1/255||Tallapoosa (GA) Haralson County|
|Sam Young||OL||6-7/280||Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas|
NOTE: Preseason player rankings (top 50 alphabetically) by the ACC Sports Journal.