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Unc, Ncsu Soaring Toward Signing Day

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

By Dave Glenn, ACC Sports Journal
January 27, 2003 In the weeks leading up to the beginning of college football's annual signing period, an avalanche of commitments hit ACC area schools. Many more will surface between the ACC Sports Journal's publishing date and national signing day on Feb. 5. Below are some details, many unreported by other media outlets, on the most recent area commitments. As is always the case in the murky world of football recruiting information, much of the following — even items as basic as the heights and weights (which the Sports Journal takes from independent combines, when available, rather than from the players themselves) listed in the accompanying charts — will directly contradict material produced by others. In some cases, the discrepancies are the innocent result of the varying information provided by prospects, their coaches and their families. In many cases, unfortunately, the differences appear to be the result of blatantly biased, purposely misleading and/or recklessly indifferent reporting by individuals with an interest in making some programs look good and others look bad. May the buyer beware.

In late January, according to most analysts, North Carolina, N.C. State and Virginia had the most impressive groups of commitments in the ACC. (Remember, a lot will change between late January and signing day, then more will change between signing day and preseason camp in August, after many prospects spend the spring and summer attempting to qualify academically.) Clemson, Florida State and Maryland, all still involved with numerous high-profile players, also remained in the running for top-25 classes.

UNC coach John Bunting, coming off a 3-9 season, delivered an outstanding job on the recruiting trail despite a challenging (losing year) sales pitch, much as the Wolfpack (rarely successful with high-profile prospects before Chuck Amato's arrival in Raleigh) did in 2001 and the Cavaliers (after Al Groh's 5-7 debut) did in 2002. Among the Tar Heels' commitments were eight postseason All-Americans: Chattanooga (TN) Notre Dame WR Adarius Bowman, Washington (DC) Gonzaga LB Kory Gedin, Wilmington (NC) Laney DT/DE Marcus Hands, Roselle Park (NJ) High WR Jesse Holley, Wendell (NC) East Wake DE Terry Hunter, Cherry Hill (NJ) Camden Catholic LB Joe Kedra, Rocky Mount (NC) High WR Mike Mason and Columbia (TN) Central LB Fred Sparkman.

“(UNC) has to qualify as one of the more impressive stories of this recruiting season,” SuperPrep editor Allen Wallace said. “It looks like they're going to sign seven or eight of our postseason All-Americans, and that's an impressive number, especially considering their record this season. The Tar Heels have always been very popular with kids in that part of the country, and I think that's coming back, after a few years where maybe that wasn't the case as much as it was in the Mack Brown days.”

One other important thing to remember on the recruiting trail, especially this year, is that the NCAA's new academic rules are in effect for the first time. That means there is no such thing as a partial qualifier anymore; everyone will be either a full qualifier or a non-qualifier. (In a little-known follow-up, the NCAA said it will allow Class of 2003 prospects to qualify under the old rules, which required only 13 core courses. Essentially, players can choose either set of rules this year.) Under the new sliding scale, a prospect can become a full qualifier with any of a variety of combinations on his grade-point average (GPA) in 14 core courses (up from 13) and his standardized test (SAT/ACT) score. Among the pairings: a 2.0 GPA and a 1,010 SAT score (21.5 ACT), a 2.375 GPA and an 870 SAT score (18 ACT), a 2.5 GPA and an 820 SAT score (17 ACT), a 2.6 GPA and a 780 SAT score (16 ACT), a 2.7 GPA and a 730 SAT score (15 ACT), or a 3.55 GPA and a 400 SAT (8 ACT). College coaches, based on years of experience in reviewing transcripts, insist they don't expect to see many prospects at either of the extreme ends of the scale.

Prospects Select Area Programs

Norcross (GA) Greater Atlanta Christian RB/DB Micah Andrews, rated one of the top 50 seniors in Georgia, committed to Wake Forest over Vanderbilt. The son of former Auburn and Atlanta Falcons running back William Andrews, Micah also had offers from Boston College, Louisville, Northwestern, Troy State, Tulane and Virginia. A two-time first-team Class 2A all-state selection and the 2002 Class 2A offensive player of the year, he rushed for a school- and county-record 2,871 yards and scored 25 TDs as a senior for a 13-2 state runner-up. During a 10-game regular season, he led all Peach State runners in all classes with 2,020 yards on 218 attempts. As a junior, he rushed for 1,791 yards and scored 28 TDs for a 13-2 team. He benches 280 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.4 seconds. He has a 2.6 GPA and a 900 SAT score.

Pensacola (FL) Escambia DE Joe Anoai, rated one of the top 200 seniors in Florida, picked Georgia Tech over Louisville and South Florida. Auburn and NCSU also showed interest. A second-team Class 5A all-state selection and the Northwestern Florida defensive player of the year, he had 119 tackles and 10 sacks as a senior. A four-year high school starter, the first three at Pensacola (FL) Catholic, he had 96 tackles and six sacks as a junior. He runs the 40 in 4.75 seconds.

Columbia (SC) Dreher RB Tramaine Billie, rated one of the top 25 seniors in South Carolina, switched from South Carolina to Clemson. He also had offers from ECU, Maryland and Syracuse, while Georgia and Tennessee also showed interest. As a senior, he rushed for 1,570 yards and scored 21 TDs. As a junior, he rushed 235 times for 2,003 yards and scored 19 TDs. A track sprinter, he runs the 40 in 4.4 seconds and captured the Class 3A state title in the 100 meters last year. Dreher coach Bill Bacon is a Clemson graduate, but Billie said that had nothing to do with his decision.

Jacksonville (FL) First Coast DB Devin Blake, rated one of the top 200 seniors in Florida, switched his commitment from Tulane to Wake Forest. Central Florida, Cincinnati, Clemson and South Florida also showed interest. A two-year starter, he had 70 tackles and four blocked kicks as a senior, when he earned honorable mention all-area recognition. He runs the 40 in 4.45 seconds. He has a 3.0 GPA and a qualifying SAT score.

Orange (NJ) High RB/DB Cory Boyd, rated one of the top 25 defensive backs in the nation, picked South Carolina over Boston College, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin. He also had offers from Maryland, Rutgers, Syracuse and Virginia. Originally concerned about the Gamecocks' team policies prohibiting cornrows and braided hair during spring practice and the fall season, he recently agreed to conform to those rules. As a senior, he rushed for 1,235 yards and 18 TDs on offense and had 78 tackles and nine interceptions on defense for a 7-3 team. As a junior, he rushed for 1,736 yards and 14 TDs on offense and had 53 tackles and eight interceptions on defense. He benches 250 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. He has a 2.9 GPA and a 17 ACT score.

Palm Beach Gardens (FL) High DE Mike Brown, rated one of the top 100 seniors in Florida, chose Virginia Tech over Michigan. He also had offers from Boston College, Central Florida, Florida, Missouri, NCSU, Rutgers and South Florida. A second-team Class 5A all-state selection as a linebacker, he had 85 tackles and five sacks as a senior. As a junior, playing end, he had 115 tackles and 22 sacks. He benches 300 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.9 seconds. With a 2.4 GPA and a 780 SAT score, he must improve his academic credentials to qualify.

Pembroke (NC) Swett LB Martrel Brown, rated one of the top 50 seniors in North Carolina, selected NCSU over North Carolina A&T. ECU and South Carolina also showed interest. A 2002 Shrine Bowl participant, he had 115 tackles and 12 sacks as a senior linebacker for a 2-9 team. As a junior, he had 63 tackles and seven sacks as an end. Projected as a linebacker for the Wolfpack, he benches 330 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds. With a 2.7 GPA and a sub-700 SAT score, he must improve his academic credentials to qualify.

Hampton (VA) Phoebus DB Phillip Brown, rated one of the top 25 defensive backs in the nation, chose Virginia over Clemson, Maryland, NCSU and Virginia Tech. He also had offers from Indiana, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Tennessee and West Virginia. As a senior for a state championship team, he rushed 64 times for 486 yards (and seven TDs), caught 24 passes for 540 yards (and five TDs), grabbed eight interceptions (two for TDs) and returned seven kicks for touchdowns. According to his coach, opposing receivers caught only two passes against him all season. A first-team Group 3A all-state selection as a defensive back and kick returner, he benches 280 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.4 seconds. A self-described indifferent student for much of his high school career, he must significantly improve his academic credentials to qualify and may soon enroll at Fork Union (VA) Military Academy — perhaps for the remainder of 2003 or beyond — with that task in mind.

Aiken (SC) Silver Bluff LB/DB DeAngelo Bryant, rated one of the top 25 seniors in South Carolina, chose Wake Forest over Duke, Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt. USC also offered him a scholarship but later backed off. As a senior, playing mostly quarterback and safety, he accounted for 18 TDs (including eight scores on 31-of-70 passing) on offense and was a first-team all-state selection on defense for an 8-4 team. As a junior QB, he threw for 1,284 yards and 17 TDs. His 43-1 record as a starting QB from 1999-2001 included two state championships. He runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds and projects as a linebacker or safety for the Demon Deacons. He reportedly is on track to qualify academically.

Ellenwood (GA) Cedar Grove DT Shelton Bynum, rated one of the top 50 seniors in Georgia, selected UNC over Auburn, Maryland and South Carolina. He also had offers from Kansas, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin. Two of Bynum's former Cedar Grove teammates, linemen Marcus McNeill and Jonathan Palmer, signed with Auburn over UNC and many others last year. A three-year starter, Bynum had 50 tackles and five sacks as a senior for a 4-6 team. He also played on the offensive line in short-yardage situations, but he said he was recruited to play defense in college. He benches 350 pounds and runs the 40 in 5.2 seconds. He has a 3.0 GPA and a 980 SAT score.

Miami (FL) Killian OL Christian Capote, rated one of the top 150 seniors in Florida, chose Clemson over Colorado State, Missouri, Rutgers and West Virginia. Boston College, FSU, Louisville and NCSU also showed interest. A first-team Class 6A all-state selection as a senior on an 11-1 team, he benches 340 pounds and runs the 40 in 5.1 seconds. He has a 3.5 GPA and a qualifying SAT score.

Ahoskie (NC) Hertford County LB/DE Wendell Chavis, rated one of the top 50 seniors in North Carolina, selected ECU over Elon, North Carolina A&T and Winston-Salem State. Maryland and Virginia also showed interest, and the Cavaliers continue to recruit him. A three-year starter and 2002 Shrine Bowl honoree, he had 105 tackles as a senior and 80 as a junior. A linebacker in high school, he runs the 40 in 4.9 seconds and probably will grow into a defensive end in college. His coach, Dealton Cotton, played for ECU in the early 1990s.

Winston-Salem (NC) Carver WR Juwon Crowell, rated one of the top 50 seniors in North Carolina, chose ECU over interest from Virginia and Wake Forest. The brother of former UVa stars Germane (WR) and Angelo (LB), Juwon had 48 receptions for 976 yards and 12 TDs as a senior for the Class 3A state champions. The Cavaliers stopped recruiting him in December, after receiving commitments from several other receivers. As a junior, he had 589 receiving yards and four TDs. He runs the 40 in 4.55 seconds.

Tallahassee (FL) Godby RB/LB Reggie Davis, rated one of the top 150 seniors in Florida, chose NCSU over Boston College, Indiana and South Florida. He also had an offer from Illinois State. A first-team Class 4A all-state selection, he rushed 214 times for 1,597 yards and 15 TDs as a senior. He benches 300 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds. With a 2.6 GPA and a 15 ACT score, he must improve his academic credentials to qualify.

Greensburg (LA) St. Helena Central DT Stanley Doughty, rated one of the top 50 seniors in Louisana, opted for South Carolina over Louisiana Tech, Memphis, Southeastern Louisiana and Southern Miss. LSU also showed interest. A first-team Class 2A all-state selection, he had 95 tackles (22 for loss) and 15 sacks as a senior. He benches 350 pounds and runs the 40 in 5.2 seconds. He reportedly is on track to meet NCAA minimum standards for freshman eligibility.

Miramar (FL) High WR/DB Chris Dunlap, rated one of the top 200 seniors in Florida, picked Georgia Tech over Northwestern. Mississippi and Wisconsin also showed interest. A three-year starter, he had 38 receptions for 715 yards and eight TDs as a senior. Also a track star, he runs the 40 in 4.45 seconds and the 100 meters and 11.3 seconds. He reportedly is on track to qualify academically.

Fayetteville (GA) Starr's Mill DB Johnny Edwards, rated one of the top 75 seniors in Georgia, switched from Vanderbilt (committed last July) to Wake Forest. He also had offers from Duke, ECU and Stanford. As a senior, he was a Class 5A honorable mention all-state selection for a 9-3 team. As a junior, he had 60 tackles and six interceptions. He benches 250 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. He has a 3.3 GPA and a 1,010 SAT score.

Tampa (FL) Wharton LB Larry Edwards, rated one of the top 75 seniors in Florida, opted for UNC over Florida, LSU and Nebraska. A first-team all-state selection for Class 5A runner-up Wharton (13-2), he also had offers from Central Florida, Memphis, South Florida and others. Georgia and Iowa also showed interest. As a senior, he had 90 tackles and 10 sacks as a linebacker, with 1,357 yards and 19 TDs as a running back. He benches 310 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.55 seconds. He has a 2.8 GPA and a 920 SAT score.

Jackson (NJ) Memorial DB Jeramy Edwards, ranked one of the top 25 seniors in New Jersey, selected Duke over Indiana and Maryland. Kansas State, Purdue and Vanderbilt also showed interest. A first-team all-state selection as a senior, he rushed for 1,350 yards and scored 15 TDs for 7-3 Memorial, while also leading the team in tackles (73) and punting. As a junior, he had 85 tackles and three interceptions. Also a wrestler, he's expected to contend for the state championship in the 171-pound division this spring. He runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. He has a 2.7 GPA and an 1,110 SAT score.

Washington (DC) Gonzaga LB Kory Gedin, rated one of the top 25 linebackers in the nation, chose UNC over Boston College, Northwestern and Vanderbilt. He also had offers from Georgia Tech, Maryland and Temple. As a senior, he had 80 tackles, six sacks and two interceptions for a 10-0 team despite missing three games with a minor injury. He also rushed 37 times for 428 yards and four TDs. As a junior, he had 110 tackles. He benches 350 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds. A member of the National Honor Society, he has a 3.4 GPA and an 1,180 SAT score.

Tallahassee (FL) Lincoln WR/DB Ryan Gilliam, rated one of the top 50 seniors in Florida, selected FSU (childhood favorite) over Florida and Oregon. He also had offers from Auburn, Clemson, Georgia (Ryan's brother Mike plays for the Bulldogs), Georgia Tech, Illinois, LSU, Southern Cal, Tennessee, Tulane and others. A former prep teammate of three current FSU players (OL Andrew Henry-Kennon, WR Craphonso Thorpe, DB Pat Watkins), Gilliam was a third-team Class 4A all-state selection as a utility player as a senior. As a junior, he had 31 rushes for 511 yards and four TDs, plus 25 receptions for 578 yards and nine TDs. On defense, he had 42 tackles and four interceptions in 2001. Also a track star, he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds, the 100 meters in 10.7 seconds and the 200 in 21.7 seconds. He has a 2.7 GPA and a 16 ACT score.

Fort Worth (TX) Dunbar OL Charlston Gray, rated one of the top 200 seniors in Texas, selected UNC over Iowa, Michigan State, Missouri, Purdue and Wisconsin. Arizona State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M also showed interest. A two-year starter and two-time all-district selection, he led teams that finished 9-2 (2001) and 7-4 (2002) in the Longhorn State's 4A classification. As a senior, he was an honorable mention Class 4A all-state pick. As a junior, he also started on Dunbar's 32-3 basketball team. His first name appears as “Charleston” in most media reports, but he said he spells it without the “e.” He benches 350 pounds and runs the 40 in 5.0 seconds. He has a 2.8 GPA and a qualifying SAT score.

Williamsville (NY) North QB/TE Daniel Gronkowski, rated one of the top 25 seniors in New York, chose Maryland over Buffalo and Pennsylvania. Arizona, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Syracuse also showed interest, and some suggested they would offer a scholarship if he agreed to move to another position. He played receiver as a sophomore, then quarterback as a junior and senior, and said the Terps promised him a shot at QB. As a senior, he set school records by hitting 122 of 205 attempts for 1,452 yards and 16 TDs. As a junior, he threw for more than 1,000 yards and ran for more than 400. He ran the 40 in 4.75 seconds at a Nike camp last summer. He has a 3.6 GPA and an 1,160 SAT score.

Houston (TX) Klein Forest LB KaMichael Hall, rated one of the top 200 seniors in Texas, picked Georgia Tech over Ball State, Northwestern, Toledo and UTEP. Arkansas, Baylor, UNC, Rice and Stanford also showed interest. As a senior, he had 110 tackles, seven sacks and two interceptions and was named defensive MVP in his district. He ran the 40 in 4.48 seconds at a Nike combine last summer. He has a 3.0 GPA and a qualifying SAT score.

Hoover (AL) High DB LaBrose Hedgemon, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Alabama, picked UNC over Auburn, Colorado and Notre Dame. A cousin of Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair, he also had offers from Arkansas, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Oregon State, Southern Miss, Vanderbilt and West Virginia. Hedgemon, who did not receive any Class 6A all-state honors (Alabama doesn't name a second team or honorable mention), told home-state Alabama not to recruit him because of the Tide's NCAA problems. As a senior, he had 45 tackles, 12 pass break-ups and four interceptions for a 13-1 state championship team. As a junior, he had 32 tackles, 19 pass break-ups and eight interceptions for a 14-1 state runner-up. Nicknamed “Spider-Man,” he benches 275 pounds and ran the 40 in 4.43 seconds at a Nike camp last summer. He has a 2.6 GPA and a 21 ACT score.

Roselle Park (NJ) High WR Jesse Holley, rated one of the top 25 wideouts in the nation, picked UNC over Virginia. He also had offers from Clemson, Colorado, Duke, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Kansas State, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, NCSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Rutgers, South Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee, UCLA, Wake Forest and West Virginia. As a senior, he split time between receiver and quarterback on offense and posted 60 tackles and five interceptions as a safety on defense for a 3-7 team. As a junior, he set a school record with 49 receptions for 870 yards and 16 TDs. A well-regarded guard in basketball, with significant hoops-only interest from Marquette, Massachusetts, Temple and others, Holley averaged 20 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and six steals a game as a junior. He has accepted an invitation from UNC coach Matt Doherty to be a walk-on for the basketball team. He runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. He has a 2.6 GPA and an 830 SAT score.

Morganton (NC) Freedom WR Chris Jefferson, rated one of the top 25 seniors in North Carolina, opted for Clemson over Wake Forest. He also had offers from Boston College, Colorado, Duke, ECU, Kansas, Maryland, Rutgers and Vanderbilt. As a senior, he had 38 receptions for 730 yards and eight TDs. As a junior, he had 54 receptions for 600 yards and 11 TDs. He runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. He has a 2.9 GPA and an 840 SAT score.

Brandywine (MD) Gwynn Park LB Wesley Jefferson, a consensus prep All-American rated the No. 2 linebacker in the nation by one service, chose Maryland over Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Penn State. A two-time first-team all-state selection, he also had offers from Boston College, Clemson, FSU, Georgia, Hawaii, Michigan, Michigan State, UNC, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Southern Cal, Syracuse, Temple, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and others. As a senior, he had 144 tackles and 13 sacks. As a junior, he had 163 tackles and 13 sacks. He benches 330 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.7 seconds. He has a 2.9 GPA and a 980 SAT score.

Santa Monica (CA) Community College QB David Koral, formerly of Pacific Palisades (CA) High and Vanderbilt, chose to be a walk-on at Florida State rather than accept a scholarship offer to California. He enrolled at FSU in January and will compete in spring practice, with the hope of earning a scholarship. A 6-3, 210-pounder with excellent accuracy and decision-making skills, he holds the national high school record for most passing yards in a game (764) and the California prep record for most passing yards in a season (4,907). He signed in 2001 with Vanderbilt over California, Duke, NCSU and Rutgers. He redshirted as a freshman with the Commodores, then decided to transfer after Vandy brought in coach Bobby Johnson and his option-style offense. Koral jumped to Santa Monica, where he broke his collarbone in the third game of the 2002 season. Prior to the injury, he completed 13 of 24 passing attempts for 258 yards, two interceptions and two TDs. He has three years to play three seasons with the Seminoles. He is not listed in the accompanying chart because he is a non-scholarship player.

Conyers (GA) Heritage TE/DE David Laggis, rated one of the top 75 seniors in Georgia, chose South Carolina over East Carolina and Middle Tennessee State. Clemson, Georgia Tech, Kentucky and UNC also showed interest. The area defensive player of the year as a senior, he had 95 tackles and 10 sacks for an 8-3 team that ranked as the best in school history. On offense, he had 17 receptions for 285 yards and three TDs, plus 12 carries for 94 yards and three TDs. As a wrestler, he won the area 4A title last year in the 215-pound weight class. He runs the 40 in 4.7 seconds. His brother Brian is an offensive lineman at Furman.

Tampa (FL) Jefferson DE Jermaine Lemons, rated one of the top 150 seniors in Florida, picked Maryland over Michigan State and Tulane. He also had offers from Iowa State, Purdue, South Florida and others. As a senior, he had 74 tackles and eight sacks but did not earn any Class 4A all-state honors. As a junior, he had 84 tackles and 12 sacks. A prep teammate of OL Donnie Woods, who enrolled at Maryland in January, Lemons benches 350 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.8 seconds. He reportedly has a 3.3 GPA and a qualifying SAT score.

Sarasota (FL) High DT Donnell Livingston, rated one of the top 100 seniors in Florida, picked UNC over Maryland, Mississippi and Nebraska. He also had offers from Central Florida, FSU, Iowa, Michigan State, NCSU, South Florida and Wisconsin. A Class 6A honorable mention all-state pick, he had 65 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and nine sacks as a senior. As a junior, he had 56 tackles, 24 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. He benches 350 pounds and runs the 40 in 5.3 seconds. He has a 2.6 GPA but must improve his academic credentials to qualify.

Pompano Beach (FL) Ely LB/DE James Martin, rated one of the top 100 seniors in Florida, switched from Wake Forest to NCSU. He also had offers from Missouri, Purdue, Rutgers and South Florida. Florida, Michigan State (visit), UNC (visit), Ohio State and Penn State also showed interest. Several programs backed off after Martin's higher-profile teammates at state champion Ely (OL Andrew Bain, RB Tyrone Moss, OL Cyrim Wimbs) committed to Miami. As a senior, playing mostly end, Martin had 70 tackles and 19 sacks. As a junior, when he was a second-team Class 5A all-state selection as an end, he had 68 tackles and 19 sacks. He benches 355 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.65 seconds. He has a 2.9 GPA and an 850 SAT score.

Columbia (SC) Keenan DT/DE Anthony McDaniel, rated one of the top 25 seniors in South Carolina, picked Clemson over Middle Tennessee State, South Carolina and Tennessee. Georgia also showed interest. A first-team all-state selection and Shrine Bowl participant, he had 78 tackles and 12 sacks for a 2-8 team as a senior. His girlfriend and infant son live in the Columbia area. With a 2.4 GPA and a 15 ACT score, he must improve his academic credentials to qualify.

Chatham (VA) Hargrave Military OL/DT Chris McDuffie, formerly of Danville (VA) Washington, chose Clemson over Central Michigan, ECU and Kent State. Arkansas, FSU and Mississippi also showed interest. A second-team Group 3A all-state selection in 2001, he failed to qualify academically and enrolled at Hargrave. He benches 380 pounds and runs the 40 in 5.0 seconds.

Clover (SC) High RB Ronnie McGill, rated one of the top 25 seniors in South Carolina, chose UNC over Vanderbilt and Wake Forest. NCSU, USC and Tennessee also showed interest. A three-year starter, he played running back and linebacker as a senior, quarterback and safety as an underclassman. He rushed for 1,827 yards and scored 27 TDs in 2002 for an 8-4 team, while also compiling a team-high 105 tackles on defense. After rushing 20 times for 93 yards and three TDs and earning MVP honors in the postseason (Dec. 14) North-South all-star game in Myrtle Beach, he received all three Division I-A scholarship offers the next day. He said the Tar Heels plan to start him out as a tailback. He benches 300 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. He has a 3.0 GPA and a 930 SAT score.

Virginia Beach (VA) First Colonial OL/DT Khalif Mitchell, rated one of the top 50 seniors in Virginia, picked UNC over ECU and Kent State. Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia also showed interest. As a senior, he had 42 tackles and nine sacks for a 4-6 team in only his second year of organized football. Since participating in track and field for the first time in his life last February, he has set a school record in the shot put (57 feet-plus) and also qualified for the state championship meet in the discus. He benches 330 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.8 seconds. With a 2.2 GPA and an 800 SAT score, he must improve his academic credentials to qualify.

Charlotte (NC) Independence DT Dre Moore, rated one of the top 50 seniors in North Carolina, committed to Maryland over interest from Duke, ECU, Georgia Tech, UNC, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. A first-team all-state pick and Shrine Bowl selection, he had 104 tackles as a senior for the 16-0 Class 4AA state champions. He has played only two years of organized football, one on the varsity. Independence, led by Florida-bound prep All-American QB Chris Leak, won 46 consecutive games and captured three state titles over the past three seasons. Moore, whose full first name is Marchondray (his father combined several names he liked), benches 340 pounds and runs the 40 in 5.1 seconds. He has a 2.9 GPA and a qualifying SAT score.

Former Huntersville (NC) North Mecklenburg OL Derek Morris, a consensus prep All-American in 2001 who signed with Ohio State last February but later was released from his scholarship by the Buckeyes, committed to N.C. State and enrolled in January. After failing to qualify in time for the beginning of the fall semester at OSU, Morris said he posted a qualifying (21) ACT score — a significant jump from his previous best — in September while taking classes at the school as a part-time student. When the Buckeyes turned Morris away, reportedly because of concerns raised by the school's compliance department and/or a disagreement between the OSU coaching staff and the Morris family, he became a recruitable prospect again. Morris then had contact with Alabama, Auburn, Boston College, Florida, FSU, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Miami, Minnesota, Nebraska, UNC, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Wisconsin and possibly others, but those schools ultimately declined to offer him a scholarship. Derek's father, Derek Morris Sr., is a former pro football player who reportedly is interested in becoming a sports agent; he said “the NCAA and certain allegations” scared many schools away. Derek also has an uncle (former Miami star Mercury Morris) and a grandfather (Riley Morris) who played in the NFL. Derek benches 480 pounds and runs the 40 in 5.1 seconds. He has four seasons of eligibility available with the Wolfpack, beginning in 2003, although he and his father already have spoken about the possibility of early entry into the NFL draft. Under current rules, which make all prospects ineligible until three years after the graduation of their high school class, the earliest that could happen for Morris is after the 2004 season.

Sumter (SC) Crestwood LB/DB Maurice Nelson, rated one of the top 10 seniors in South Carolina, picked Clemson over Georgia, Maryland and South Carolina. He also had offers from Duke, Florida, Georgia Tech, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. His brother Roosevelt, a linebacker for the Tigers, hosted him on his official visit to the school. A first-team all-state selection, Maurice had 90 tackles and two interceptions as a senior for a 6-5 team. As a junior, he had 79 tackles, six sacks and two interceptions. He benches 320 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.55 seconds. He has a 2.9 GPA and an 800 SAT score.

Old Bridge (NJ) High RB/DB Brandon Nolen, rated one of the top 50 seniors in New Jersey, picked Clemson over Wisconsin. He also had offers from California, Indiana, Purdue, Rutgers and Wake Forest. A three-year starter and two-time all-county pick, he rushed for 1,180 yards and 21 TDs as a senior but did not receive any all-state honors. (First, second and third teams are selected in New Jersey.) As a junior, he rushed for 1,206 yards and 23 TDs. A star sprinter on the track team, he runs the 40 in 4.4 seconds and the 100 meters in 10.7 seconds. He has a 2.6 GPA and a 920 SAT score.

Hampton (VA) Phoebus WR/DB D.J. Parker, rated one of the top 50 seniors in Virginia, opted for Virginia Tech over interest from NCSU, Virginia and West Virginia. As a senior, he had six interceptions as a cornerback on defense and accounted for 17 TDs as a quarterback on offense. He runs the 40 in 4.55 seconds. He's not expected to qualify academically and may enroll at Fork Union (VA) Military Academy for the 2003-04 school year, then sign with the Hokies in 2004.

Virginia Beach (VA) Kempsville DT Kenny Price, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Virginia, chose UNC over Clemson. ECU, Syracuse, Virginia and West Virginia also showed interest. He received a scholarship offer from the Tar Heels in mid-January, one day before a planned commitment to the Tigers. Kempsville coach Jeff Beard also coached (some at other schools) former UNC players DrÈ Bly, Deon Dyer and Darryl Grant. A second-team Group 3A all-state selection, Price had 87 tackles and nine sacks as a senior for an 8-3 team. He benched 400 pounds and ran the 40 in 4.8 seconds at a local combine last summer. With a 2.2 GPA and an 860 SAT score, he must improve his academic credentials to qualify.

Piscataway (NJ) High DE Omar Savage, rated one of the top 25 seniors in New Jersey, selected Maryland over Clemson, Duke and Rutgers. He also had offers from Indiana, Purdue, Temple, West Virginia and Wisconsin. A first-team all-state selection, he had 57 tackles and three sacks for a 12-0 state championship team as a senior. As a junior, he had 55 tackles and six sacks for a 7-4 team. He benches 250 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.8 seconds. He has a 2.3 GPA and a 1,050 SAT score.

Norman (OK) High TE/DE Zac Selmon, rated one of the top 50 seniors in Oklahoma, chose Wake Forest over North Texas and Rice. His father (Dewey) and uncles (Leroy, Lucious) were football stars at Oklahoma and played in the NFL, and his three older sisters (Shannon, Megan, Lauren) all play college basketball. His former teammate, QB Zac Taylor, is in his first year with the Demon Deacons. A two-year starter, Selmon had 32 receptions for 570 yards and seven TDs as a senior. He also punted 45 times for a 37.4-yard average. He runs the 40 in 4.8 seconds and ranks No. 1 academically in a senior class with more than 500 students.

Plant City (FL) High RB/DB Joslin Shaw, rated one of the top 200 seniors in Florida, selected Florida State over Iowa State. Alabama, Clemson and Wake Forest also showed interest. Shaw attended FSU's summer camp last year. A third-team Class 5A all-state pick and a second-team all-county selection, he rushed for a Hillsborough County-best 1,396 yards for a 2-8 team as a senior. Also a track star, he runs the 40 in 4.4 seconds and the 100 meters in 10.8 seconds. With a 2.4 GPA and an 800 SAT score, he must slightly improve his academic credentials to qualify.

Columbia (TN) Central LB Fred Sparkman, rated one of the top 25 linebackers in the nation, chose UNC over Alabama, Arkansas, Michigan and South Carolina. A four-year starter who was voted Mr. Football (among linemen) in Tennessee's Class 4A as a senior, he also had offers from Louisville, Michigan State, MTSU, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. As a senior, he had 122 tackles on defense, including 21 tackles for loss and seven sacks, and rushed for 1,210 yards and 12 TDs as a fullback on offense. As a junior, he had 128 tackles, including 19 TFLs and six sacks. He benches 320 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds. He has a 3.4 GPA and a 20 ACT score.

Georgia Military (GA) Junior College DB Brian Staley, formerly of Aiken (SC) High, chose Clemson over Nebraska and South Carolina. He also had offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi State and others. As a juco sophomore, he was named a first-team NJCAA All-American after compiling seven interceptions for a 10-1 team. As a juco freshman, he finished third in the nation with nine interceptions for the 11-0 NJCAA national champions. As a prep senior, he was a first-team all-state pick after posting five interceptions for a 13-2 state runner-up. As a prep junior, he rushed 51 times for 467 yards and two TDs, and he had 22 receptions for 564 yards and seven TDs. On defense, he had 72 tackles and seven interceptions. He said he chose the Tigers in part because he wanted to be close to his son, Brian Jr., and in part because they were his childhood favorite. Staley runs the 40 in 4.4 seconds.

Duncan (SC) Byrnes DB John Talley, rated one of the top 25 seniors in South Carolina, chose Duke over Vanderbilt. He also had offers from Furman and Western Carolina. A three-year starter, he had 62 tackles and three interceptions for the Class 4A-II champions (14-1) as a senior. As a junior, he had five interceptions for a 10-4 state runner-up. Also a basketball player at Byrnes, he's shooting 42 percent from three-point range this season. He has a 4.0 GPA and a qualifying SAT score.

Fork Union (VA) Military DB Kareen Taylor, a fifth-year student who also attended Fork Union as a high school senior, chose UNC over Louisville, Michigan State, Ohio and Syracuse. He's the Tar Heels' first commitment since 2000 from Fork Union, which regularly has placed numerous graduates — including some (Gaines Adams of Clemson, Jason Crawford of Maryland) who committed to the Heels at some point in the recruiting process — at Clemson, Virginia and Virginia Tech in recent years. A two-year starter, Taylor led his team in tackles and earned defensive MVP honors in 2001 and 2002, while compiling 44 sacks and seven blocked kicks. He runs the 40 in 4.45 seconds. He reportedly is on track to qualify academically.

Fayetteville (NC) Smith DT Demarcus Tyler, rated one of the top 10 seniors in North Carolina, chose NCSU over Ohio State. He also had offers from Auburn, Clemson, Maryland, UNC, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wake Forest. A first-team all-state selection, he had 67 tackles as a senior for a 12-3 team. As a junior, he had 75 tackles and eight sacks. Nicknamed “Tank,” he benches 440 pounds and runs the 40 in 5.1 seconds. With a 2.5 GPA and a 790 SAT score, he must improve his academic credentials to qualify.

New Orleans (LA) Karr LB Nick Watkins, rated one of the top 50 seniors in Louisiana, opted for Clemson over Indiana, Louisiana Tech and Tulane. Auburn, Baylor, Georgia Tech, Mississippi, Nebraska and West Virginia also showed interest. A three-year starter and an honorable mention Class 4A all-state selection, he had 89 tackles, eight sacks and two interceptions as a senior for a 10-3 team. He benches 300 pounds and runs the 40 in 4.7 seconds. He has a qualifying GPA and a 19 ACT score.

Greenville (SC) High WR Noah Whiteside, rated one of the top 10 seniors in South Carolina, committed to South Carolina over Clemson and Pittsburgh. He also had offers from Maryland, NCSU, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest. A first-team all-state selection, he had 86 receptions for 1,770 yards and 20 TDs as a senior for an 11-1 team. As a junior, he had 69 receptions for 1,393 yards and 15 TDs. He runs the 40 in 4.4 seconds. With a 2.5 GPA and an 810 SAT score, he must slightly improve his academic credentials to qualify.

Dublin (GA) West Laurens LB/DB Alexander Williams, rated one of the top 100 seniors in Georgia, opted for Duke over Georgia Southern and Troy State. Florida also offered a scholarship, but the Gators later backed off. Clemson, Georgia Tech and LSU also showed interest. A four-year starter, he had 123 tackles and three interceptions as a senior. He had 116 tackles and five sacks as a junior, when he earned honorable mention Class 3A all-state honors. He runs the 40 in 4.6 seconds. He has a 3.3 GPA and an 870 SAT score.

Dave Glenn, the editor and football recruiting analyst for the ACC Area Sports Journal, has been covering football recruiting and the ACC since 1987.

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