By Dave Glenn, ACC Sports Journal
August 5, 2002 Last year, a solid start and a blazing finish lifted first-year Virginia coach Al Groh to a recruiting class considered the best in school history.
This year, the first part of that formula appears to be in place again. Among the Cavaliers' first seven commitments were six solid prospects and a prep All-American quarterback. Here are some details on UVa's most recent additions:
Virginia Beach (VA) Kellam DB Robbie Catterton, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Virginia, said he's received numerous scholarship offers since he committed to the Cavaliers over East Carolina and Wake Forest in June. He said Boston College, Indiana, Michigan and Michigan State were among those who came forward in recent weeks. A second-team all-district selection, he had 115 tackles and four interceptions as a junior. An excellent outfielder, he hopes to also play baseball in Charlottesville.
ì(Recruiting is) a strange process,î Catterton said. ìA couple of people warned me that, once everyone knows one school offered a scholarship, everyone else offers, too. I don't know why it happens that way, but that's how it worked for me. Ö I'm solid, though. I'm Virginia all the way. Everybody else is too late.î
Gibsonia (PA) Pine-Richland QB Kevin McCabe, a prep All-American rated one of the top 10 seniors in Pennsylvania, picked Virginia over Arizona State, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Iowa, LSU, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Syracuse and West Virginia. He also received offers from Michigan and NCSU, before those two programs landed other signal-callers. He attended the Cavaliers' summer camp. A two-year starter entering this fall, McCabe completed 79 of 131 passes for 1,053 yards last season, with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. He was the only junior named to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's ìFabulous 22î all-star team last year. He has a 2.8 GPA and runs the 40-yard dash in 5.1 seconds.
Virginia assistant Danny Rocco got a tip two years ago from his older brother, former Pine-Richland coach Frank Rocco, and recruited McCabe for the Cavaliers. The young quarterback comes from a family of athletes. His father, Joe McCabe, played tight end for Penn State in the 1970s. His brother, Tim, plays third base at West Virginia. An uncle, Richie McCabe, was a defensive back for Pittsburgh at the college level and for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins and Buffalo Bills in the NFL.
ì(UVa's coaches) made me feel wanted, like I was their No. 1 guy,î McCabe said. ìI really like Coach Rocco and Coach Groh a lot, and Coach (Bill) Musgrave (who works with quarterbacks) was the best guy at my position that I met in this whole process. Ö I like the way the coaches relate to their players. They're the kind of guys I always saw myself playing for, and they're in this thing for the long haul. I didn't want to go somewhere where I wasn't even sure how long the head coach was going to be there.î
Forest (VA) Jefferson Forest OL Eddie Pinigis, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Virginia, picked Virginia over Maryland and Wake Forest. Florida, UNC and Tennessee also showed interest. An all-area, all-district and all-region selection as a junior, he bench presses 300 pounds, runs the 40-yard dash in 5.2 seconds and has an 83-inch wingspan. His uncle, Calvert Jones, was a lineman at Virginia Tech in the early 1990s.
ìVirginia wanted me more than anybody else,î Pinigis said. ìThey were the first school to recruit me, and they stayed with me. They're a program on the rise. With the players they signed last year and more this year, they'll have a shot at a national championship in the next few years. Ö I also want to play in the NFL some day, and I know Coach Groh can help get me there.î
Woodbridge (VA) High RB/LB James Terry, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Virginia, picked Virginia over Pittsburgh. Clemson, Maryland, Syracuse, Tennessee and Virginia Tech also showed interest. He missed half of his sophomore season with a back injury and four games with an ankle sprain last year, when he was first-team all-district on defense and second-team on offense. He bench presses 365 pounds and squats 515.
ìYou don't see his combination of size and speed very often,î Woodbridge coach Keith King said. ìMore importantly, he's one of those guys who runs a 4.5 40 on the track and then looks just as fast out there on the field. He has good football speed, which is even more important than pure foot speed. And he's tough, very hard to bring down.
ìA lot of people don't know about James because he was hurt and doesn't have the big statistics, but he has a very bright future ahead of him. A lot of people are going to be sorry they didn't see him coming. I think Coach Groh is going to use him like he used O.J. Anderson with the (New York) Giants. He's going to wear the defense down with James, then bring in one of the smaller guys to run past everybody.î
Others Select ACC Area Teams
Winston-Salem (NC) Carver RB/DB Monte Anthony, rated one of the top 50 seniors in North Carolina, committed to Wake Forest over ECU. He attended the Deacons' summer camp. A three-year starter, he rushed for 1,100 yards and scored 23 touchdowns as a junior. He has played only tailback in his prep career so far and expects to begin with the Deacs at that position, but he probably will play some cornerback for Carver this fall in case he's ever needed on defense during his career in Winston-Salem. Also a track star, he has 4.45 speed in the 40-yard dash and runs the 100 meters in 10.6 seconds.
Lexington (NC) High OL Virgil Black, rated one of the top 50 seniors in North Carolina, selected East Carolina over interest from Maryland, UNC, NCSU, Ohio State, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Wake. He said the Pirates impressed him by making their offer unconditional, while other schools made it dependent on his weight. Black tipped the scales at 355 last spring before dropping 40 pounds during summer workouts. He bench presses 440 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 5.6 seconds. A three-year starter, he earned all-area honors as a junior.
Winston-Salem (NC) Carver OL Matt Brim, rated one of the top 50 seniors in North Carolina, picked East Carolina over interest from Clemson, UNC, NCSU, UVa and Wake Forest. A life-long Deacons fan and recent Wolfpack supporter who listed the Pack as his favorite all summer, he committed after attending the Pirates' camp. He attended Kernersville (NC) East Forsyth before transferring to Carver in January. He bench presses 375 pounds, squats 520 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 5.2 seconds.
Cherry Hill (NJ) Camden Catholic QB Nick Cangelosi, rated one of the top 25 seniors in New Jersey, chose UNC over Boston College, Central Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Rutgers, Vanderbilt and Virginia Tech. Maryland also showed interest. Entering his third season as a starter, he has led Camden Catholic to a 16-5 record and two semifinal berths in the state playoffs. As a junior, he threw for 2,180 yards and 22 touchdowns while completing 60 percent of his passes. He has 4.8 speed in the 40-yard dash. The Tar Heels remain one of the leaders (with Penn State) for Cangelosi's high-profile teammate, linebacker Joe Kedra.
Greenwood (SC) High PK Jad Dean, unranked, picked Clemson over LSU. Georgia, UNC, Tulane, Virginia and Wake Forest also showed interest. As a junior, he converted 46 of 48 extra points and four of five field goals, with a long of 48 yards. He also averaged 34.7 yards per punt. As a sophomore, he made 52 of 55 extra points and 10 of 14 field goals, with a long of 45. A life-long Clemson fan, Dean said he didn't think the Tigers would give a scholarship to a kicker this year and was ìshockedî when he got word of the offer.
Raeford (NC) Hoke County QB/RB C.J. Gaddis, rated one of the top 10 seniors in North Carolina, chose Clemson over Colorado, Duke, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Maryland, UNC, NCSU, South Carolina, Virginia and Wake Forest. He attended the Tigers' summer camp and was promised an opportunity to play QB at the college level. Primarily an option threat as a junior, he ran for more than 1,000 yards and 10 TDs while passing for about 750 yards. He performed well in the shotgun formation late in the season and is expected to throw more this fall. The Tigers also promised Gaddis an opportunity to play baseball. He batted .436 with nine homers, 50 RBIs and 29 steals as a junior. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds. He has a 3.4 GPA and a 910 SAT score.
Douglas (GA) Coffee PK Chase Goggans, rated one of the top 100 seniors in Georgia, chose FSU over interest from Clemson, ECU, Georgia, Michigan and Texas. A first-team all-region selection as a junior, he has converted 26 of 36 field goal attempts and 55 of 57 extra point tries in his career. His longest field goal came from 54 yards, and he puts about 75 percent of his kickoffs into the end zone. An excellent student, he has a 3.9 GPA and a 24 ACT score.
Clinton (NC) High WR/DB Brian Ho-ward, rated one of the top 50 seniors in North Carolina, picked East Carolina over several Division I-AA programs. He attended the Pirates' summer camp. Playing for a 15-0 state championship (2A) team as a junior, he caught 18 passes for 549 yards and 10 TDs. A two-way starter at receiver and defensive back for the past two seasons, he's expected to play wideout for ECU.
Kennesaw (GA) Harrison OL/DL Scott Lenahan, rated one of the top 50 seniors in Georgia, picked North Carolina over Furman, Kent State, Miami-Ohio and Troy State. Colorado, ECU, Kentucky, Maryland, Stanford, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest also showed interest. A three-year starter at Harrison, he was an all-county pick as a junior. He's expected to play either center or defensive tackle for UNC. He said he picked the Tar Heels because of the coaching staff, the direction of the program and the school's record of putting players in the NFL. Lenahan runs the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds, bench presses 400 pounds and squats 575. He became one of the stars of this year's Nike camp in Georgia when he ran a 4.42 shuttle time (comparable to most receivers and defensive backs), then pumped out 42 repetitions (third-best in the nation among Nike campers) of 185 pounds on the bench press. He has a 3.8 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society.
New Port Richey (FL) Ridgewood TE/DE Adamm Oliver, rated one of the top 200 seniors in Florida, picked Georgia Tech over interest from Boston College, Florida and Notre Dame. He attended the Yellow Jackets' summer camp. A first-team all-conference pick at end, he had 95 tackles and nine sacks as a junior. As a fullback, he rushed 95 times for 516 yards and caught nine passes for 115 yards. Only 16 years old, he bench presses 330 pounds, runs the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds and holds the school record in the shot put (52-9). An excellent student with a 3.7 GPA and 1,100 SAT score, he plans to major in engineering.
Burnet (TX) High OL Eddy Parker, rated one of the top 300 seniors in Texas, opted for Georgia Tech over SMU. Houston, TCU, Texas A&M and Texas Tech also showed interest. He bench presses 300 pounds, squats 525, power cleans 275 and runs the 40-yard dash in 5.3 seconds. He has a 3.2 GPA and 980 SAT score.
Leander (TX) High QB Al Pena, rated one of the top 200 seniors in Texas, picked Georgia Tech over Oklahoma State. Colorado, TCU and Texas Tech also showed interest. He was the South Texas player of the year last season at Rio Grande City (TX) High, where he threw for more than 1,000 yards and rushed for more than 800 yards. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds. He has a 3.3 GPA and has scored 990 on the SAT.
Wilson (NC) Beddingfield QB/DB Pierre Parker, rated one of the top 50 seniors in North Carolina, picked East Carolina over several Division I-AA offers after attending the Pirates' summer camp. He completed 119 of 231 passes for 2,082 yards and 22 touchdowns last season and has 5,431 passing yards and 55 TDs in three years as a starter. He has a 3.25 GPA. Also a safety prospect thanks to 4.6 speed and a 315-pound bench press, Parker said he has been promised a shot at QB by the ECU coaching staff.
Hyattsville (MD) DeMatha LB Corey Sobel, rated one of the top 50 seniors in Maryland, picked Duke over Connecticut. Northwestern, UVa and Virginia Tech also showed interest. An all-state selection, he had 160 tackles as a junior. Depending on his development, he could play either safety or outside linebacker for the Blue Devils.
Harrisburg (PA) Bishop McDevitt QB Marcus Stone, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Pennsylvania, picked N.C. State (offered in September 2001) over Arizona, Boston College, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Pittsburgh and Tennessee. Colorado, Notre Dame and Penn State also showed interest. Stone passed for 1,900 yards and 20 touchdowns as a sophomore (second-team all-conference), then 1,487 yards and 10 TDs as a junior (third-team). Despite his large (6-4, 230) frame, he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds. He has a 3.0 GPA and 940 SAT score. NCSU assistant Curt Cignetti, a long-time friend of Bishop McDevitt coach Jeff Weachter, recruited Stone for the Wolfpack.
Jacksonville (FL) Mandarin DT Marcus Thomas, rated one of the top 50 seniors in Florida, picked Florida State over Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, Miami, Penn State, Southern Cal, South Carolina and Tennessee. He attended the Seminoles' summer camp. He had 80 tackles and 15 sacks as a junior. He has a 2.5 GPA and 850 SAT score.
Rowland (NC) South Robeson RB/DB Robert Tillman, rated one of the top 50 seniors in North Carolina, chose ECU over
NCSU and Richmond. Maryland, UNC and South Carolina also showed interest. He attended the Pirates' summer camp. He has rushed for more than 2,000 yards in his prep career, although he was limited to about 700 last year after breaking his collarbone. Also a track star, he won the state 1A long jump title as a sophomore and the 2A title as a junior. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds.
Hyattsville (MD) DeMatha DB Josh Wilson, rated one of the top 25 seniors in Maryland, selected Maryland over interest from Clemson, Duke, UNC, NCSU, South Carolina, Syracuse and Virginia. He committed after attending the Terps' summer camp. Also a track star, having captured Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championships in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, he plans to focus on football as a senior. His father, Tim Wilson (now deceased), played for the Terps from 1974-76 and went on to play for the NFL's Houston Oilers (blocking for Earl Campbell) from 1978-85. Josh has a 3.2 GPA and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds.
Top 2002 Classes Took Hits
Barring any last-minute surprises from the NCAA Clearinghouse, it's finally safe to offer one last update on the ACC's Class of 2002. Interestingly, the league's four top-ranked classes - those at Florida State, N.C. State, Virginia and Clemson - incurred by far the most significant casualties.
FSU suffered the most attrition between signing day in February and enrollment in August, losing five signees to academics. Jacksonville (FL) Mandarin DT Chris Anderson, a prep All-American, landed at Butler County (KS) Community College. Alpharetta (GA) Chattahoochee DT Chris Bradwell enrolled at Fork Union (VA) Military. Jacksonville (FL) White TE Lonnie Davis is awaiting the result of an appeal to the NCAA Clearinghouse; barring a success there, he'll either attend Northwest Mississippi (MS) Community College or sit out the fall semester while attempting to achieve a qualifying standardized test score. Punta Gorda (FL) Charlotte WR Dishon Platt, a prep All-American, enrolled at Jones County (MS) Junior College. Jacksonville (FL) White DT Chris Turner, another prep All-American, will either attend Northwest Mississippi (MS) Community College or sit out the fall semester while attempting to achieve a qualifying standardized test score.
Under NCAA rules, a non-qualifier who enrolls at a junior college out of high school cannot participate in Division I-A football until completing at least three full semesters at the juco level and earning an associate's degree. Thus, the earliest a non-qualifying member of the Class of 2002 can arrive at his original school of choice (or any other I-A school) if he takes the juco detour is January 2004. Non-qualifying members of the Class of 2002 who opt for prep school can arrive on campus as early as January 2003 (assuming improved academic credentials), but history suggests that most will prep for a full year and enroll in college in August 2003. Non-qualifying 2002 signees who decide to sit out while trying to earn a qualifying standardized test score can enroll as early as January 2003, assuming they post the necessary score by that time. In all three scenarios, the non-qualifying prospect is not bound to his original letter of intent and can be recruited by other programs.
N.C. State lost four signees to academics and welcomed two other newcomers who will be ineligible this fall. Tampa (FL) Hillsborough LB Elijah Dukes, still unsigned after being selected in the third round of the Major League Baseball draft by Tampa Bay, failed to qualify and signed with Louisburg (NC) Junior College. He plans to play only baseball at Louisburg, which doesn't have a football team, if he can't work out a deal with the Devil Rays. Vienna (GA) Dooly County DT Alex Lumpkin enrolled at Hinds (MS) Community College. Avon (CT) Old Farms WR LaMart Barrett and Belle Glade (FL) Glades Central DB Garland Heath said they plan to sit out the fall semester while attempting to achieve a qualifying standardized test score, with the hope of arriving in Raleigh in January 2003. Meanwhile, Fort Myers (FL) High WR Richard Washington enrolled as a partial qualifier, meaning he will be eligible for practice but not games this fall. Los Angeles Valley (CA) Junior College RB Tramain Hall will be under the same restrictions, a result of the Pack's mishandling of his eligibility coming out of high school in January 2001.
Virginia also lost four signees. Arlington (VA) Washington-Lee DT Robert Armstrong, Woodbridge (VA) Hylton LB Ahmad Brooks and Dumfries (VA) Potomac DT Keenan Carter all enrolled at Fork Union (VA) Military. Brooks was a prep All-American, one of the ACC's top 2002 signees and a potential starter this fall for the Cavaliers. Nassau (NY) Community College OL Robert Jenkins, a 2001 signee who was turned down by the UVa admissions office last year despite meeting NCAA standards, is expected to return to Nassau for another year.
Clemson lost at least three signees to academics and another to professional baseball. Conyers (GA) Rockdale County DE Irvin Brisker and Pamplico (SC) Hannah-Pamplico DT Cory Groover, a prep All-American, enrolled at Southwest Mississippi (MS) Community College. Kannapolis (NC) Brown DB Chris Carter decided on Chatham (VA) Hargrave Military. Meanwhile, Naples (FL) High RB Duane Coleman had a qualifying ACT score flagged (jumped from 15 to 19) and remained in limbo in mid-August while awaiting the results of a re-take. Finally, Lilburn (GA) Parkview DB Jeff Francouer, another prep All-American, signed with Atlanta after being selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft and started his career in the minor leagues. He landed a $2.2 million bonus as part of his Braves deal, which precludes him from playing college football.
Elsewhere in the ACC, the offseason damage was minimal. Camden (NJ) Wilson LB Melik Brown, a UNC signee, failed to qualify but said he remains committed to the Tar Heels for 2003. Morristown (NJ) Beard DE Jyles Tucker, a Wake Forest signee, also came up short. Hagerstown (MD) South DB Domonique Richmond, a Maryland signee who was arrested in March on marijuana-related charges, had his arrival pushed back until January 2003; he will be admitted at that time if he meets a set of team requirements.
According to information provided by the players, their coaches and/or their families, the entire recruiting classes at Duke and Georgia Tech met minimum NCAA eligibility guidelines. Barring any last-minute surprises, they'll be the only two ACC schools whose lists of August newcomers perfectly match their lists of February signees.