By Dave Glenn, ACC Sports Journal
August 20, 2002
Although the overwhelming majority of prospects on the ACC Sports Journal's list of the ACC area's preseason All-Americans remain available, commitments continue to pour in from recruits at a hectic pace.
Of those on the Fabulous 50 list, which consists exclusively of high school seniors, only seven had announced early college decisions at press time. Most of the others appeared ready and willing to go through a more extensive recruiting process. That route includes an unlimited number of unofficial (self-paid) visits to college campuses, as many as five official (school-sponsored) trips and a mind-numbing total of phone calls, e-mails, letters and other communications leading up to national signing day in February 2003.
North Carolina, coming off a solid but unspectacular recruiting effort in second-year coach John Bunting's first trip through an entire recruiting cycle, grabbed the most headlines this summer. The Tar Heels, who hired two recruiting-friendly assistants (Jim Fleming and Hal Hunter) during the offseason, accepted early commitments from three of the top six prospects in the state: Wilmington (NC) Laney DE Marcus Hands, Wendell (NC) East Wake DT Terry Hunter and Rocky Mount (NC) High WR Mike Mason. Clemson was the only other ACC school to corral a Fabulous 50 commitment this summer. Raeford (NC) Hoke County QB/RB C.J. Gaddis, a phenomenal athlete pursued as a running back or defensive back by dozens of schools, picked the Tigers in part because they were among the teams that promised him an opportunity to play quarterback. Other early commitments from the Fabulous 50 came from Kennesaw (GA) Harrison RB Jason Evans (Penn State), Royal Palm Beach (FL) High DT David Howell (Miami) and Punta Gorda (FL) Charlotte QB Justin Midgett (Florida). Kennesaw (GA) Harrison DB Paul Oliver, perhaps the top overall prospect in the ACC area this year, announced a commitment to Georgia but later said he plans to take official visits to several other schools. Outside the ranks of the elite, meanwhile, more and more prospects seem willing to end the recruiting process prior to their final year of high school. Through late August, more than 50 prospects (see chart on page R-15) had committed to an ACC school, East Carolina, South Carolina or Virginia Tech. Here's a brief rundown of the decisions that took place since our last issue, with a focus on those players who selected area programs: Chatham (VA) Hargrave Military LB Melik Brown, a 2002 North Carolina signee out of Camden (NJ) Wilson who failed to qualify academically, said he remains "100 percent" committed to playing for the Tar Heels. He said he already knows many of the players in Chapel Hill and will not consider any other schools. He hopes to arrive at UNC in January 2003, so he can participate in spring practice next year. "That's my school," Brown said. "I wish I could help (UNC) this year, but I'm just going to have to wait until next year. I've known I was going there since my junior year (of high school), so I want to get down there as soon as I can. Hopefully, that's January." Williamsport (PA) Loyalsock Township OL Brock Choate, rated one of the top 40 seniors in Pennsylvania, committed to Maryland over N.C. State. An all-conference and all-district selection as a junior, he also received interest from Georgia Tech, Michigan State and life-long favorite Penn State. He has a 920 SAT score. "It came down to Maryland and Penn State, and I just wanted to make a decision and enjoy my senior year," Choate said. "N.C. State was the first school to offer me, and I liked Georgia Tech, too, but Maryland had everything I wanted closer to home. I visited (College Park), and I liked the players, the coaches, the facilities, everything." Rocky Mount (NC) Northern Nash LB/DE Chad Green, rated one of the top 10 seniors in North Carolina, picked N.C. State over Clemson, ECU and UNC. Maryland, Tennessee and Virginia also showed interest. As a junior, he had 90 tackles and 14 sacks for a 10-1 team. An excellent pass rusher with 4.6 speed, he recently suffered a broken collarbone but is expected to recover in time to play most of his senior season. His brother, David, recently transferred to NCSU and also plans to play football for the Wolfpack. "(Chad) has always had the big frame, but now he's growing into it," Northern Nash coach Jim Brett said. "He's already a good pash rusher, and as he gets stronger he'll be even better. He's a hard worker, so another year in the weight room will help a lot." Dodge City (KS) Community College WR Derrick Higgins, a 2001 Clemson signee out of Lamar (SC) High who failed to qualify academically, re-committed to the Tigers and said he hopes to enroll in January 2003. He attended Georgia Military (GA) College for a few days in the fall of 2001, then enrolled at Claflin (SC) College for the remainder of the semester. He transferred to Dodge City in January 2002. Higgins had 80 receptions for 1,294 yards and 19 touchdowns as a high school senior. Marietta (GA) Wheeler DT Jeromy Jones, rated one of the top 150 seniors in Georgia, opted for Wake Forest over Alabama-Birmingham and Middle Tennessee State. Auburn, Florida, Georgia Tech and UNC also showed interest. A tight end and defensive end at Wheeler, he projects as a nose guard for the Deacons. He had 71 tackles and seven sacks as a junior. He bench presses 350 pounds, squats 480 and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds. Kenton (OH) High QB Ben Mauk, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Ohio, chose Wake Forest over seven schools in the Mid-American Conference. Iowa, LSU and Penn State also showed serious interest. Mauk, who has a 3.9 GPA, is a friend of 2002 Wake Forest signee Bryan Andrews. He also is familiar with Jim Grobe and the rest of the Demon Deacons' coaches, who directed the program at Ohio from 1995-2000. Mauk is profiled on page R-15 of this edition of the ACC Sports Journal. Bethel (NC) North Pitt RB/DB Quinton Person, rated one of the top 25 seniors in North Carolina, picked UNC over Duke, ECU, Virginia and Wake Forest. Maryland, NCSU and Tennessee also showed interest. The conference player of the year as a junior, he rushed for more than 1,500 yards (8.5 yards per carry), averaged big numbers on kick (25) and punt (18) returns and scored 18 touchdowns. He had 83 tackles and broke up 22 passes as a cornerback. Also a sprinter for the North Pitt track team, he has been independently timed at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He has a 2.8 GPA and a 1,040 SAT score. Allen (TX) High OL Clint LaTray, rated one of the top 200 seniors in Texas, chose Clemson over Louisiana-Lafayette, SMU, Texas Christian and Tulane. Projected as a center for the Tigers, he was a first-team all-district selection as a junior. He has family in South Carolina and an aunt who attended Clemson. He has a 3.1 GPA and an 870 SAT score.
Talented Targets Head Elsewhere
Danvers (MA) St. John's LB Nick Borseti committed to Notre Dame over Boston College, Indiana, Syracuse, Vanderbilt and Virginia. ... River Rouge (LA) Curtis DT Jarrod Carter chose LSU over Auburn, Baylor, Colorado, Florida, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Memphis, Oklahoma, Southern Cal, Texas A&M and West Virginia. ... Jersey City (NJ) Saint Peter's QB Joe Dailey selected Syracuse over Rutgers and Virginia Tech. Pittsburgh and Virginia also showed interest. ... Fayetteville (GA) Starr's Mill DB Johnny Edwards opted for Vanderbilt over Duke, Stanford and Wake Forest. ECU, Georgia and Pittsburgh also showed interest. ... Utica (NY) Proctor LB Vincenzo Giruzzi picked Syracuse over Maryland. Ohio State, Penn State, Temple and Rutgers also showed interest. Fort Meade (FL) High OL Andraus Grace chose Alabama over LSU. Florida, FSU, Iowa State and UNC also showed interest. ... Fork Union (VA) Military DE Greg Jacobs picked Vanderbilt over Virginia Tech. Boston College, Maryland, UNC and Virginia also showed interest. ... West Springfield (VA) High DE Tony Jenkins picked Syracuse over UConn, James Madison, Kent State and Utah State. Maryland and Penn State also showed interest. ... Danvers (MA) St. John's OL Jonathan Loyte chose Vanderbilt over Boston College, Duke, Maryland, Michigan State, UNC, Rutgers and Syracuse. ... Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas RB David Marrero chose Notre Dame over Auburn, Boston College, Indiana, Maryland, NCSU, Northwestern, Purdue, Rutgers, Stanford and Tulane. Palm Beach (FL) Dwyer QB Pete Martinsen selected Minnesota over interest from Central Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Rutgers and Stanford. ... Austintown (OH) Fitch OL Mike McGlynn chose Pittsburgh over interest from Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, UNC, Syracuse and West Virginia. ... Winter Springs (FL) High WR Chris Narsesian switched from Pittsburgh to Central Florida. He also had offers from Cincinnati, Rutgers and Tulane. He attended Winter Park (FL) Lake Howell last year. ... Dublin (OH) Coffman WR Chinedum Ndukwe opted for Notre Dame over Duke, Iowa, Louisville, Maryland, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin. ... Highland (MI) Milford LB Jim Presley chose Michigan over Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin. Spring Grove (PA) High DT John Shaw chose Penn State over Boston College, Cincinnati, Colorado, Kansas, Louisville, Maryland, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Rice, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. ... Massillon (OH) Perry OL Zach Slates picked Pittsburgh over Cincinnati, Duke, Purdue and Vanderbilt. ... Union City (NJ) Union Hill OL Pedro Sosa opted for Rutgers over Clemson, Duke, Indiana, Kansas State, Maryland, UNC, Purdue, South Carolina, Temple, Vanderbilt, Virginia and Wisconsin. ... Boca Raton (FL) High WR/DB Jimmy Sutton picked Texas over Central Florida, Indiana, Michigan, NCSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Rutgers. ... Statesboro (GA) High DT Josh Thompson opted for Auburn over Cincinnati, Georgia Tech (runner-up) and Kentucky. Florida, Georgia and South Carolina also showed interest. ... Youngstown (OH) Boardman TE/DE Mike Villagrana picked West Virginia over Cincinnati. Boston College, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio State and Wisconsin also showed interest. Dave Glenn, the editor, lead writer and football recruiting analyst for the ACC Area Sports Journal, has been covering football recruiting since 1987.