By Dave Glenn, ACC Sports Journal
August 30, 2006
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 2007 recruits at a hectic pace.
Led by unusually large figures at Virginia Tech (23, excluding any 2005 holdovers) and Maryland (15), members of the rising senior class are announcing early pledges in what may be record numbers.
Three years ago at this time, only one ACC program had more than eight early commitments. This year, nine of the league's 12 teams already have 10 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 had a lot of commitments come out of our summer camps, and I'm sure that's happening to a lot of other people, too," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "I think when you get a good number (of commitments) early, some of the other kids interested in you start to see that the spaces are getting filled, and maybe some of them move up (the timing of) their decisions."
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, nine are preseason All-Americans who have chosen to play in the ACC: Folkston (GA) Charlton County WR D.J. Donley (Georgia Tech), Culpeper (VA) High LB Terrence Fells-Danzer (Virginia), High Point (NC) Andrews DB Marcus Gilchrist (Clemson), Burlington (NC) Cummings WR Dwight Jones (North Carolina), Duncan (SC) Byrnes QB Willy Korn (Clemson), Springfield (VA) West Springfield QB Peter Lalich (Virginia), Jacksonville (FL) Sandalwood DE Jacoby Monroe (Georgia Tech), Richmond (VA) Varina DB Davon Morgan (Virginia Tech) and Hampton (VA) High QB Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech).
Korn, rated one of the top three quarterbacks in the nation, is profiled on page R-14 of this edition of the ACC Sports Journal, in the Prep Stars section. In a nationally televised Aug. 26 exhibition game against Florida powerhouse Glades Central to open his senior season, Korn led Byrnes to a
27-15 victory before a crowd of more than 13,000 people. He finished with 268 passing yards, three touchdown passes and three interceptions.
"Willy is the total package," Byrnes coach Bobby Bentley said. "He can run and throw. He makes all of the passes - long and short, hard and soft - and has a quick release. He is dangerous when scrambling and rolling out, and he runs over defensive backs and makes people miss. He checks off at the line of scrimmage and is very intelligent. He works hard on all aspects of his game, on getting stronger and in learning more about being a quarterback.
"Willy is a tough kid and is so versatile and explosive. He is very similar to (former Clemson quarterback) Woody Dantzler, only bigger."
Donley, rated one of the top 25 wide receivers in the nation, committed to the Yellow Jackets over Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. He also had offers from Florida State, Mississippi, Purdue, Tennessee and others. As a junior, he had 54 receptions for 854 yards and nine touchdowns as a wideout, plus 51 tackles and an interception as a safety. Also a member of Charlton County's basketball and track (800 meters, high jump, relays) teams, he runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. With a 3.4 GPA and a 950 SAT score, he is on track to qualify academically. His main recruiter at Tech is defensive line coach Giff Smith.
"At the end of my junior (football) season, I wasn't thinking about Georgia Tech at all, but they did a great job recruiting me," Donley said. "I didn't know a lot about them, but they came after me so hard that I wanted to give them a visit at least. I went to their Junior Day (in April), and I got to talk with Calvin Johnson, get to know some of the coaches and sit in on some of the team meetings. I was really impressed. Nobody recruited me harder than (Tech), and when I learned more about their academics and athletics, I knew it was right."
Fells-Danzer, rated one of the top 25 linebackers in the nation, selected the Cavaliers in April over Virginia Tech. Clemson, Duke, Georgia, Kansas State, Maryland, UNC, Tennessee and West Virginia also showed interest. He lives about 45 minutes away from Charlottesville. As a junior, Fells-Danzer played mostly running back and linebacker (50 tackles, three sacks) but was limited by an ankle injury for most of the season. Also a member of the Culpeper track team (discus, long jump, sprints), he benches 295 pounds, squats 490 and runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds. He has a 3.0 GPA but has not yet reported a qualifying SAT/ACT score. His main recruiter with Virginia is wide receivers coach John Garrett.
"Terrence is one of the hardest-working kids I've ever coached," Culpeper coach Greg Martz said. "He doesn't take shortcuts. When they see the way he plays when he's healthy, everyone in the nation will wish they had offered him a scholarship."
Gilchrist, rated one of the top 25 defensive backs in the nation, opted for Clemson over Georgia and North Carolina. He also had offers from Arizona State, Duke, East Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, N.C. State, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Southern California, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. His brother Eldreck plays football at Winston-Salem State. As a junior, Marcus had 40 tackles and 11 interceptions for an 11-4 team. He scored a total of 13 touchdowns on kickoff returns (four), punt returns (three), interception returns (three), rushing attempts (two) and a pass reception (one). A projected cornerback and return man in college, he runs the 40 in 4.45 seconds. Gilchrist has a 3.7 GPA, a qualifying SAT score and wants to major in computer engineering. His main recruiter at Clemson is tight ends coach Billy Napier.
"I just felt a connection to the (Clemson) staff," Gilchrist said. "In the end, it is where I felt more comfortable. When I was there (on a visit), I just had that gut feeling that it was right for me. ... It's a great feeling to have this decision behind me. Now I can focus on my senior year and enjoy my teammates."
Jones, rated one of the top 25 wide receivers in the nation, chose the Tar Heels in February over N.C. State, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. Since his announcement for UNC, Jones also has received scholarship offers from Florida, LSU, Tennessee and other major programs, and the Gators continue to pursue him aggressively. Three former Cummings players - linebacker Durell Mapp, receiver Brandon Tate and walk-on defensive back Jabir Jones - are on this year's Carolina team. A four-year starter and two-time all-region selection, Dwight Jones caught 49 passes for 962 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior. He played defensive back as a freshman and sophomore, posting nine interceptions as a rookie. He runs the 40 in 4.65 seconds. Jones has a 2.8 GPA but has not yet reported a qualifying SAT/ACT score. His main recruiter with UNC is defensive coordinator Marvin Sanders.
"I really like the coaching staff (at UNC). They've been recruiting me for a long time," Jones said. "I wanted to stay pretty close to home, and I have great relationships with Coach Bunting and Coach Sanders. I think everybody at my school has been impressed with the way they've treated (Mapp, Tate and Jabir Jones). Nobody can tell you more about a school than the people who are there, and they're excited about the direction of the team."
Lalich, rated one of the top 25 quarterbacks in the nation, picked Virginia in April over Michigan. He also had early scholarship offers from Maryland, Miami, Mississippi, N.C. State, Ohio State, Pittsburgh and UCLA, plus interest from California, Oklahoma, Southern California and many others. As a junior, directing a spread offense, Lalich completed 189 of 331 passing attempts (57 percent) for 2,671 yards, 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions for a 5-5 team, earning all-district honors. As a freshman and sophomore, he played mostly wide receiver. He benches 285 pounds, squats 450 and runs the 40 in 4.7 seconds. He has a 3.5 GPA and a qualifying SAT score. His main recruiter at Virginia is offensive coordinator Mike Groh.
"Virginia was my top school all along. I took a lot of trips and looked around, but I never found anybody to beat them out," Lalich said. "I like the coaching staff a lot, I like the offense they run, and I feel very comfortable around the players. I also think I'll have a chance to play early."
Monroe, rated one of the top 25 defensive tackles in the nation, chose Georgia Tech over Florida and Florida State. He also had offers from Georgia, Miami and N.C. State. As a junior, Monroe missed the entire season after being suspended for bringing onto school grounds something that school officials called a "weapon." (It reportedly was a BB gun.) As a sophomore, he barely played because of various injuries. Monroe benches 350 pounds, squats 800-plus and runs the 40 in 4.9 seconds. He has a 2.5 GPA but still needs a qualifying ACT/SAT score. His main recruiter at Tech is wide receivers coach Buddy Geis, the father of Sandalwood head coach Adam Geis.
"Jacoby is a very quiet, humble kid, and it was important for him to find a place where he would feel comfortable," Adam Geis said. "When he told me he wanted to commit (to Tech), I told him to sleep on it. I told him he didn't have to do anything just because my dad coaches there; I've never sent any of our kids to Georgia Tech. He came back to me a few days later and said he was sure.
"(Monroe) can be the best player we've ever had at Sandalwood, and I expect him to show that this year. He can squat 850 pounds right now - 850 pounds! There's probably not a dozen kids in college football right now who can do that. On the field, you just can't block him. Double-team him, it doesn't matter. He's a machine out there. He doesn't want any special attention, either. He just loves getting the job done and letting his play speak for itself."
ACC AREA PRESEASON FABULOUS 50
|Marvin Austin||DT||6-3/290||Washington (DC) Ballou|
|Allen Bailey||DE||6-4/255||Darien (GA) McIntosh County|
|Mark Barnes||WR||6-3/195||Columbia (SC) Richland Northeast|
|Arrelious Benn||WR||6-2/210||Washington (DC) Dunbar|
|Eric Berry||DB||5-11/195||Fairburn (GA) Creekside|
|Ahmad Black||DB||5-11/180||Lakeland (FL) High|
|John Brantley||QB||6-3/195||Ocala (FL) Trinity Catholic|
|John Brown||DT||6-2/280||Lakeland (FL) High|
|Alphonso Bryant||WR||6-1/195||Homestead (FL) High|
|Morgan Burnett||DB||6-1/190||College Park (GA) North Clayton|
|Nick Claytor||OL||6-6/310||Gainesville (GA) High|
|Enrique Davis||RB||5-11/210||Lynn Haven (FL) Mosley|
|Torrey Davis||DT||6-5/290||Seffner (FL) Armwood|
|Noel Devine||RB||5-8/175||North Fort Myers (FL) High|
|D.J. Donley||WR||6-3/200||Folkston (GA) Charlton County|
|Carlos Dunlap||DE||6-6/245||N. Charleston (SC) Ft. Dorchester|
|Jonathan Dwyer||RB||6-0/200||Marietta (GA) Kell|
|Terrence Fells-Danzer||LB||6-2/235||Culpeper (VA) High|
|Marcus Gilchrist||DB||5-11/175||High Point (NC) Andrews|
|Gary Gray||DB||5-10/165||Columbia (SC) Richland Northeast|
|Joe Haden||WR||5-10/190||Ft. Washington (MD) Friendly|
|Junior Hemingway||WR||6-2/205||Conway (SC) High|
|Cameron Heyward||DT||6-5/265||Suwanee (GA) Peachtree Ridge|
|Cris Hill||DB||5-11/175||Highland Springs (VA) High|
|Dwight Jones||WR||6-3/210||Burlington (NC) Cummings|
|Caleb King||RB||5-11/185||Norcross (GA) Atlanta Christian|
|Willy Korn||QB||6-2/200||Duncan (SC) Byrnes|
|Peter Lalich||QB||6-5/235||Springfield (VA) West Springfield|
|Ted Laurent||DT||6-2/285||Powder Springs (GA) McEachern|
|Dion Lecorn||WR||6-0/200||Ocala (FL) Trinity Catholic|
|Chris Little||OL||6-5/340||Jeffersonville (GA) Twiggs County|
|Greg Little||WR||6-2/215||Durham (NC) Hillside|
|Brian Maddox||RB||6-2/215||Anderson (SC) Hanna|
|Cliff Matthews||DE||6-5/225||Cheraw (SC) High|
|D'Angelo McCray||DT||6-4/280||Jacksonville (FL) Jackson|
|Jacoby Monroe||DT||6-2/280||Jacksonville (FL) Sandalwood|
|Davon Morgan||DB||6-0/185||Richmond (VA) Varina|
|Josh Nesbitt||QB||6-1/205||Greensboro (GA) Greene County|
|Tydreke Powell||DT||6-3/285||Ahoskie (NC) Hertford County|
|Quintin Richardson||OL||6-5/275||Columbia (SC) Spring Valley|
|Travian Robertson||DE||6-4/220||Laurinburg (NC) Scotland|
|Jay Smith||WR||6-2/195||Norfolk (VA) Lake Taylor|
|Trinton Sturdivant||OL||6-4/280||Wadesboro (NC) Anson|
|Tyrod Taylor||QB||6-1/200||Hampton (VA) High|
|Deonte Thompson||WR||6-0/180||Belle Glade (FL) Glades Central|
|Israel Troupe||WR||6-0/200||Tifton (GA) Tift County|
|Doug Wiggins||WR/DB||5-11/180||North Miami Beach (FL) High|
|Bo Williams||RB||6-1/200||Oakland Park (FL) Northeast|
|James Wilson||OL||6-4/310||St. Augustine (FL) Nease|
|Major Wright||DB||6-1/200||Ft. Lauderdale (FL) Aquinas|
NOTE: Preseason player rankings (top 50 alphabetically) by the ACC Sports Journal.