By Dave Glenn, ACC Sports Journal
October 18, 2004 Six more ACC football commitments came to light in the first half of October, including one that actually took place over the summer. Lackawanna (PA) Junior College OL Garrett Kline, who was named a preseason All-American by the National Junior College Athletic Association, took an unofficial visit to N.C. State in June. He committed to the Wolfpack over Kentucky, South Carolina and Syracuse soon after his trip to Raleigh, but no media outlet reported his commitment until October.
"That's funny. I didn't know it was such a big secret," Kline said. "(N.C. State) recruited me longer and harder than anyone else. I've been thinking about them all year, and then my visit just kind of confirmed everything in my mind. They have a great coaching staff, and they need help on the line. I also liked the campus, the football building and the whole area. I've lived in Pennsylvania my whole life, so I'm looking forward to being in another part of the country."
Kline, a 6-6, 315-pounder formerly of Hawley (PA) Wallenpaupack, failed to qualify academically out of high school and enrolled at Lackawanna in 2003. A two-year starter, he starred last fall for an 8-3 team that sent four players (including offensive lineman Tyler McMeans to Miami) to Division I-A programs and seven others to I-AA teams. Kline's main recruiter with the Wolfpack is cornerbacks coach Greg Williams, who was an assistant at Maryland in the early 1980s, when Lackawanna coach Mark Duda played for the Terps.
"Garrett is the best left tackle we've had since (former Miami All-American and current Minnesota Vikings starter) Bryant McKinnie," said Duda, who helped create the program at Lackawanna in 1993. "He's a huge kid with good feet, and that's the combination most of these college coaches are looking for. He's a better pass protector than a run blocker right now, but he's a very good fit for left tackle. They're hard to find, and he's been a rock at that spot for us for two years now."
Chesapeake (VA) Atlantic Shores Christian OL Jeraill McCuller, rated one of the top 40 seniors in Virginia, committed to N.C. State (camp) over Michigan State and South Carolina. A 6-7, 310-pound tackle from Detroit who also plays basketball at the prep level, he attracted additional interest from Maryland, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. Former NCSU basketball players Kenny Inge and Damon Thornton are graduates of Atlantic Shores Christian. McCuller, who runs the 40 in 5.3 seconds, must only maintain his academic credentials to qualify. His main recruiters with the Wolfpack are offensive line coach Mike Barry and safeties coach Manny Diaz.
"When I (took an unofficial visit to NCSU) for the Ohio State game, that kind of sealed it for me," McCuller said. "The fans and the atmosphere in that stadium were awesome for the whole game. It didn't end the way everyone hoped, but that's football sometimes. I like the way the players get along with the coaches, and I also liked how nobody pointed any fingers after the (OSU) game. It's easy to act like a team when you're winning, but not everybody does that when you lose a tough game."
Others Select ACC Programs
Fayetteville (NC) Britt DB Brandon Ghee, rated one of the top 20 seniors in North Carolina, committed to Wake Forest over Virginia Tech. He also had offers from Army, Clemson, Duke, East Carolina, UNC, Tennessee, Texas Christian and West Virginia. Brandon's brother Patrick is a starting safety this fall for the Demon Deacons as a sophomore, and former Britt star George Bell is a freshman tailback for the Hokies. A three-year starter at Britt, Ghee had 50 tackles and five interceptions as a junior for an 8-5 team. Also a track star, he runs the 40 in 4.45 seconds, the 100 meters in 10.5 and the 200 meters in 21.5. He has a 3.0 GPA. His main recruiter with the Demon Deacons is defensive coordinator Dean Hood, who also handles defensive backs.
"At the beginning, it was actually a negative (for Wake Forest) that my brother went there. I wanted to go somewhere with my own identity, not as somebody's little brother," Brandon Ghee said. "Even at the end, I asked myself where I would go if I didn't even have a brother who plays football or even if I couldn't play football, and I kept coming back to Wake. But I have to admit, I did listen to my brother. You hear great things about every school, and you're not sure what to believe and what not to believe, but you know it's the truth when it's coming from your brother. One of the best parts is that, when my family wants to watch us play the next two years, they only have to follow one team."
Jersey City (NJ) St. Peter's RB Rashawn Jackson, rated one of the top 10 seniors in New Jersey, picked Virginia over Florida, Nebraska, Tennessee and Wisconsin. He also had offers from Boston College, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas State, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Syracuse, but not from childhood favorites Florida State and Miami. His St. Peter's teammate, defensive back Mike Brown, previously committed to the Cavaliers. Jackson said UVa's coaches told him he will begin his career in Charlottesville as a tailback, and that the Wahoos won't sign any other players at that position this year. His size (between 240-260 pounds), speed (4.55 in the 40) and running style remind many of former New Jersey product and ex-Wisconsin star Ron Dayne. As a junior, Jackson rushed 91 times for 938 yards and 25 touchdowns for a 10-1 team. As a linebacker on defense, he had 75 tackles. He has a 2.8 GPA but still needs a qualifying standardized test score. His main recruiter with the Cavaliers is tight ends coach Mark D'Onofrio, who was the recruiting coordinator at New Jersey-based Rutgers last season.
"It feels like I've known Coach D'Onofrio forever," Jackson said. "It was a little bit strange, because he was telling me Rutgers-this and Rutgers-that for the longest time, and now he's at Virginia. But (UVa) was one of the schools I was looking at anyway, and having him there just made it better. It's the No. 1 public university in the country, so you know it's a great education, and they're one of the best teams in the country right now, too. I started looking at them even more when (Brown) committed, and then when they said they would give me a shot (at tailback) that kind of clinched it. The funny thing is, I've been hurt this year, so they put me at linebacker, but I should get back (to tailback) soon."
Randallstown (MD) High DB Jamari McCollough, rated one of the top 10 seniors in Maryland, chose Maryland over Virginia Tech. He also had offers from Connecticut, Michigan State, NCSU, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Rutgers, Syracuse and Temple. His former Randallstown teammate, defensive back Christian Varner, is a freshman with the Terps this fall. His close friend and teammate, prep All-American defensive end Melvin Alaeze, had the Terps atop his most recent list of finalists. As a junior, McCullough had 42 tackles and six interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns. As a receiver, he had 23 catches for 425 yards and six TDs for a 10-3 team. He runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds, benches 280 pounds and squats 480 pounds. With a 2.5 GPA and a 790 SAT score, he must improve his academic credentials to qualify.
"Everybody wanted me as a cornerback. They say I'm a natural," McCollough said. "They like my size and speed and especially the way I break on the ball. The defensive coaches are always talking about having good hips, and they say I have good hips. Coach Friedgen was one of the first coaches I met, and we hit it off real good. He's a great coach, and he says I'm a perfect fit for their coverage schemes. He already has (Varner), now me. I think we can get (Alaeze) to come, too, but we'll see."
Hackensack (NJ) High WR/DB Danny Oquendo, rated one of the top 20 seniors in New Jersey, opted for Maryland over Boston College, Rutgers, Syracuse and Virginia Tech. He also had offers from Connecticut, Indiana, Pittsburgh and Wisconsin. As a junior, he caught 30 passes for about 600 yards and seven touchdowns, with 65 tackles and three interceptions on defense for an 8-3 team. He runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds, benches 250 pounds and squats 400. He has a 3.2 GPA and an 1,150 SAT score.
Finally, here are some additional details on an ACC commitment previously reported in the Sports Journal.
Greensboro (NC) Dudley LB Dominique Midgett, rated one of the top 25 seniors in North Carolina, selected Wake Forest over Duke, ECU, Maryland and Vanderbilt. UNC also showed interest, but not childhood favorites Florida, Florida State, Georgia and Miami. His teammate, fullback Kennedy Tinsley, previously committed to the Tar Heels. A transfer from Greensboro (NC) Grimsley, Midgett started at defensive end for Dudley as a sophomore and junior before moving to middle linebacker for the 2004 season. He had 95 tackles and 17 sacks last fall for an 8-4 team that sent tailback Jamaal Edwards to FSU, defensive tackle DeMario Pressley to N.C. State and defensive back Martel Thatch to UNC. A Wake Forest summer camper, Midgett runs the 40 in 4.7 seconds. He has a 2.8 GPA.
Dave Glenn, the editor and football recruiting analyst for the ACC Sports Journal, has covered the ACC and football recruiting since 1987.