By Dave Glenn, ACC Sports Journal
October 20, 2003 Continuing what is traditionally a very slow time (September-October) for commitments on the football recruiting trail, only two ACC schools added new pledges during the first three weeks of October. Norwich (CT) Free Academy DB J.J. Justice, rated the No. 1 senior in New England and one of the top 25 defensive backs in the nation, committed to Maryland over Boston College and Penn State. He also had offers from Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Purdue, South Carolina and Syracuse. He once listed Virginia as his favorite, but he never received an offer from the Cavaliers. His father, James Justice, played running back at Syracuse from 1973-75. A first-team all-state selection as a junior on an 11-1 team, J.J. threw for 1,100 yards and 20 touchdowns as a quarterback and ran for 800 yards and 14 scores as a tailback. He said the Terps offered all four things he wanted most: a chance to get away from home, a successful team in either the ACC or SEC, a strong program in his intended area of study (criminal justice) and an opportunity for playing time as a true freshman. In one game this fall, he rushed 35 times for 247 yards at tailback and played all but one series on defense. He attended Maryland's 2003 summer camp and took four unofficial visits to College Park. Justice, who benches 280 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds, is projected as a safety by the Terps. He has a 2.5 GPA and a 990 SAT score.
Buford (GA) High QB Kyle Manley, rated one of the top 100 seniors in Georgia, chose Georgia Tech over William & Mary. California, Duke, Stanford and Vanderbilt also showed interest. A two-year starter, Manley led state powerhouse Buford to a 15-0 record and the Class 2A state championship as a junior, completing 69 of 117 passes for 1,216 yards and 14 touchdowns. Through five games this fall, he was 5-0. One of his teammates, prep All-American tailback Darius Walker, also has an offer from Tech. Manley, who attended Tech's 2003 summer camp, has a 3.6 GPA and an 1,170 SAT score. His main recruiters with the Yellow Jackets are quarterbacks coach Patrick Nix and special teams coach David Wilson.
Virginia Corrals Two Juniors Early
In early October, about 16 months before they can sign national letters of intent, highly regarded juniors from North Carolina and Virginia committed to UVa.
Durham (NC) Southern WR Maurice Covington, rated one of the top juniors in North Carolina, committed to Virginia over early interest from Duke, Georgia Tech, UNC, N.C. State, South Carolina, Wake Forest and others. A 6-4, 190-pounder, he starts at wideout and outside linebacker for a powerhouse Southern Durham team this fall. As a sophomore, he had 37 receptions and 11 touchdowns for a run-oriented team. His coach, Gordon Walters, sent safety Willie Davis to UVa two years ago, when Walters and Davis were at Wilmington (NC) Laney. Davis served as a host for Covington, along with fellow Southern Durham juniors and scholarship offer recipients Brandon Woods and Charles Gamble, during the trio's unofficial visit to Charlottesville on Sept. 27. Covington's main recruiter with the Cavaliers is offensive coordinator Ron Prince. Covington runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds. He has a 3.5 GPA and a 1,000-plus SAT score.
Gretna (VA) High QB/DB Vicqual Vic Hall, rated one of the top juniors in Virginia, also committed to the Cavaliers. A 5-10, 180-pounder, Hall attended summer camp at Virginia Tech in 2000, 2001 and 2002, but the Hokies showed little interest. As a sophomore on an 8-3 team, when he was a first-team Group 2A selection, Hall threw for 2,184 yards and 20 touchdowns and ran for 1,045 yards and 12 more scores. In one game this fall, against Naruna (VA) Campbell, he rushed for 345 yards and six TDs and threw for another score in a 61-21 victory. In another game, against Moneta (VA) Staunton River, he completed 31 of 37 passes for 262 yards and three scores and rushed for 233 yards and two more TDs. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds.
Catching Up With Boston College
Eight Class of 2004 prospects have committed to recent ACC addition Boston College. Here's a summary of those players and their decisions:
Lansdale (PA) North Penn RB/DB Kevin Akins, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Pennsylvania, committed to BC over Connecticut, Syracuse and West Virginia. Penn State, Pittsburgh and Virginia also showed interest. He committed to the Eagles soon after attending their 2003 summer camp in June. As a junior, he rushed for more than 1,500 yards and eight touchdowns. He runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. His main recruiter with BC is running backs coach Jason Swepson. Ö Camp Hill (PA) Trinity QB Chris Crane, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Pennsylvania, picked BC over Clemson, Connecticut and Vanderbilt in June. Maryland and Penn State also showed interest. As a junior, he completed 78 of 142 passing attempts for 1,188 yards, 14 TDs and six interceptions. He runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds. He has a 4.0 GPA and a 1,250 SAT score. Ö Byfield (MA) Governor Dummer Academy LB Robert Francois, rated one of the top 10 seniors in Massachusetts, selected BC over interest from Connecticut and Duke in July, after attending the Eagles' summer camp. As a junior, he had 50 tackles and four interceptions. He benches 320 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds. He has a 2.5 GPA and a 990 SAT score. Ö Forestville (MD) High DB Andre Jones, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Maryland, chose BC over Kent State and Syracuse in July. Marshall, Maryland, Michigan State, UNC, Ohio State, Purdue and Tennessee also showed interest. As a junior, playing mainly at quarterback, he threw for 840 yards and 13 TDs and rushed for 810 yards and seven scores. He also had six interceptions on defense and returned nine punts and kicks for TDs. With a 2.4 GPA and a 700 SAT score, he must improve his academic credentials to qualify.
Wilmington (DE) Tatnall PK James Ohliger, rated one of the top 10 seniors in Delaware, opted for BC over interest from Clemson and Virginia. Also an all-conference tailback, he rushed 36 times for 159 yards and three TDs in his first four games this fall. He also had seven receptions for 184 yards and a score. An all-state kicker, he's made all nine PAT attempts and one three-pointer this season. He holds the Delaware state record for the longest field goal, with a 54-yarder. His brother Jesse is the kicker at Murray State this fall, after transferring from Miami, where he was a walk-on. His brother Jon kicked at West Virginia. Ö Glens Falls (NY) High OL/DT Justin Tougas, rated one of the top 10 seniors in New York, picked BC over Maryland, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Syracuse after attending the Eagles' summer camp. Michigan and childhood favorite Notre Dame also showed interest. A first-team all-state pick, he had 72 tackles and seven sacks as a junior. He finished second in the heavyweight division at the New York wrestling championships last year. He benches 270 pounds and runs the 40 in 5.2 seconds. He has a 3.2 GPA and a 980 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Eagles is offensive line coach Don Horton. Ö Mansfield (MA) High TE/DE Gerry Willette, rated one of the top five seniors in Massachusetts, chose childhood favorite BC in May over interest from Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Penn State, Syracuse and Virginia Tech. As a junior, he had 36 tackles and three sacks. Willette, who benches 300 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.8 seconds, also competes for the Mansfield track and field team, and he ranks among state leaders in the discus and shot put events. He has a 3.5 GPA and a 1,260 SAT score. His main recruiter with the Eagles is offensive coordinator Dana Bible. Ö Westwood (MA) Xaverian Brothers FB/DE Keith Willis, rated one of the top 10 fullbacks in the nation, picked BC over Pittsburgh. Connecticut, Maryland, Nebraska and Wisconsin also showed interest. His father, Keith Willis Sr., is the defensive line coach for the Eagles and a former star defensive lineman for the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers. As a junior, Keith Jr. had 50 tackles and five sacks for an 8-3 team. More than 40 Xaverian Brothers products are playing football at the college and pro levels this season. Willis benches 280 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.7 seconds. He has a 2.5 GPA but needs a qualifying SAT score.
Talented Targets Head Elsewhere
Greenville (SC) Hampton OL John Paul Gillis, rated one of the top 30 seniors in South Carolina, committed to childhood favorite South Carolina over interest from Duke, Georgia Tech, Maryland, NCSU, Vanderbilt, Virginia and Wake Forest. A three-year starter, he benches 300 pounds and runs the 40 in 5.1 seconds. His father, Paul Gillis, played defensive end for the Gamecocks from 1969-72. John Paul has a 3.6 GPA and a qualifying SAT score. Ö Garfield Heights (OH) High RB/DB Tony Howard, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Ohio, chose Michigan State over Boston College, Maryland, Pittsburgh and South Carolina. He also had offers from Minnesota, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin. Ö Reedley (CA) Junior College QB Robert Johnson, formerly of Americus (GA) High, selected Texas Tech over Auburn, Central Florida, Fresno State, Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky and Washington. Johnson, who broke the Georgia single-season passing record (with 3,263 yards) as a high school senior, signed with West Virginia in 2001 but failed to qualify. Last fall he led Reedley to a 12-0 record and the juco national championship, passing for 2,353 yards and 21 TDs and running for 554 yards and 11 more scores. He plans to enroll at Texas Tech in January.
Wayne (NJ) Hills DB Chazz Lynn, rated one of the top 50 seniors in New Jersey, opted for Rutgers over Iowa. He also listed Maryland and UNC among his favorites, but neither offered a scholarship. Those schools and others wanted to see Lynn play as a senior, but a broken collarbone caused him to miss the first two months of the season. Ö Dalton (GA) High OL Cameron Mayo, rated one of the top 50 seniors in Georgia, picked Auburn over Clemson and Mississippi. He also had offers from Cincinnati, Duke, ECU, Louisville, Middle Tennessee State, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. His father, Bill Mayo, was an All-American offensive lineman at Tennessee. Ö Cincinnati (OH) LaSalle OL Ryan Stanchek, rated one of the top 50 seniors in Ohio, chose West Virginia over Cincinnati, NCSU and Northwestern.