Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gamecocks land Havelock's Robinson

Offensive lineman Corey Robinson (6-7 275) of Havelock High committed to South Carolina at a press conference at the school today.

The Gamecocks were Robinson’s first offer, but he was drawing interest from Duke, East Carolina, North Carolina and N.C. State.

“At North Carolina’s camp, they told him he looked like an ‘offer kid,’” said Havelock coach Jim Bob Bryant. The Tar Heels, though, waited too long.

“After he visited South Carolina, he came back real excited and said, ‘Coach, I can’t get any higher than this, playing in the SEC,” Bryant said.

Bryant also said that Gamecocks assistant Brad Lawing told him that Robinson was the best prospect at their offensive/defensive lineman camp, out of 375 kids.

“He’s the smartest offensive lineman I ever coached,” Bryant said. “He knew all the rules for every one of the five O-line positions. We used him at left tackle, left guard, right guard and right tackle, and he was also our backup center. He can play anywhere.”

Robinson, who has 5.2 speed in the 40-yard dash, also has lost about 15 pounds since last season, becoming leaner and more muscular. The Gamecocks plan to use him at tackle. He is South Carolina’s fifth O-line commitment and 12th overall.

--Stan Olson

If you know of any commitments, offers or visits, please email me at

Sumter OT Marques Pair picks Volunteers

Sumter (S.C.) offensive lineman Marques Pair has committed to Tennessee. And it’s fitting in a way, since few major programs had paid much attention to Pair before he went to the Vols’ camp earlier this month and showed off dramatic athleticism for a 6-foot-6, 260-pound young man.

After that, Pair started “blowing up,” as they say in the recruiting world, drawing more attention from schools like Auburn, Clemson, N.C. State, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The Volunteers were the first to offer, though. And Pair already had a relationship with Tennessee QB coach David Reaves, who had spotted the player when Reaves was still on South Carolina’s staff.

There’s a lot to like about Pair; he should be able to add 40 pounds or so to his rangy frame, and he runs a 5-second-flat 40-yard dash.

The bottom line on all this? Tennessee was the first to figure out that Pair is a big-time prospect, and the Vols recruited him longest and hardest.

--Stan Olson

Monday, June 29, 2009

East Carolina lands South Stanly quarterback

Quarterback Desi Brown committed to East Carolina this morning, South Stanly coach Luke Little said a few minutes ago.

“They are going to let him play quarterback, and that meant a lot to him,” Little said. “Most of the other schools recruiting him wanted him as a linebacker or a safety.”

It’s easy to see why. Brown is 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, and can run a 4.57-second 40-yard dash.

“He’s so athletic; I think he finished third in the state in the 110-meter hurdles,” Little said.

Little said the Pirates offensive coordinator and QB coach, Todd Fitch, came in during spring evaluations and watched Brown throw, and was impressed with his strong and accurate arm.

“Desi really feels comfortable now with coach Fitch,” Little said.Brown can run or throw; as a junior he passed for 900 yards and 11 touchdowns, and ran for 550 yards and seven scores.

A number of schools showed interest in Brown, including Duke, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Louisville and Arkansas.

*Little also said that South Stanly DE Justin Taylor is expected to choose between N.C. State and Virginia Tech shortly, perhaps after a visit to Raleigh later this week.

--Stan Olson

A closer look at the latest Pack-Man

A bit more on Logan Winkles, the latest Wolfpack commitment:

Winkles is also an excellent wrestler, a first-team All-Region choice after going 34-4 in individual matches. He was an area champion and eventually, an all-American.

Although he started at LB and TE for Upson-Lee High in Thomaston, Ga., most colleges were recruiting him as a fullback. His 4.7-second speed in the 40-yard dash is a tad too slow for his prep positions.

Still, Winkles was a high school force to be reckoned with, in on 83 tackles with five sacks despite playing in eight games with an injured knee He also forced six fumbles.

--Stan Olson

Blue Devils making dramatic recruiting strides

Duke football has been a punchline almost since the Steve Spurrier days ended two decades ago, but if recruiting means anything at all, coach David Cutcliffe and his staff are changing that.

Time was, when the Blue Devils reeled in a three-star rated recruit, it was cause for celebration. This year, in an abrupt turnaround, it’s becoming expected.

Don’t get me wrong; the star rating system has its flaws, and individuals are always proving it wrong (see Wake Forest’s two-star linebacker recruit, Aaron Curry). But right now, it’s the only rating method we’ve got, and it’s right more often than it’s not.

So consider this—Duke now has eight commitments. According to Scout.com, one of those has four stars, and six of the remaining seven have three.

Last year, Duke signed 27 players. One had four stars and 10 had three.
And in 2008, the 17 signees included two four-star kids and five with three.

See a progression here?

The players who have committed this season that I’ve talked to have been impressed by staff, support, academics, everything. Cutcliffe is changing the culture around the program.
Expect it to pay off in victories soon.

--Stan Olson

If you know of a commitment, offer or visit, email me at

Top prospect to visit Gamecocks in July

Offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, regarded by many scouts as the nation’s best college prospect, is planning a swing through South Carolina in July and will visit South Carolina and Clemson, according to Columbia recruiting expert Phil Kornblut.

Henderson, who is 6-foot-8 and 325 pounds, is from St. Paul, Minn., and has offers from just about every major program, including the likes of Ohio State, Southern Cal and Florida.

He told Kornblut that he will take all his visits in July and August, and that the Gamecocks in particular have stirred his interest.

While Clemson has also offered, Henderson said he hasn’t heard much from the Tigers.

Henderson said he doesn’t have a short list of favorites yet. So what kind of school is he looking for?

“Just a place I'm comfortable at and people I’m comfortable around,” he said.

--Stan Olson

And yet another recruit for the Wolfpack

Is N.C. State trying to grab every rising high school senior with a talent for football? The latest is apparently Logan Winkles, a 6-foot, 240-pound fullback from Upson Lee High in Thomaston, Ga.

More on this later, but for now know that Winkles would be the Wolfpack's fifth commitment in just over a week.

--Stan Olson

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Blue Devils continue recruiting roll with an RB

Duke has added the commitment of RB Juwan Thompson, who announced his decision Friday night.

While Thompson, who has 4.44-second speed in the 40-yard dash, picked the Blue Devils over Boston College and Mississippi, he also had offers from Minnesota, Stanford, Syracuse, Tulane, Virginia and Wake Forest.

“I visited Duke late in May right after I got out of school and I knew during that visit that I was going to Duke," Thompson said.

Thompson, a rising senior at Woodward Academy in College Park, Ga., is 5-foot-11 and 212 pounds. He said he felt comfortable with the coaching staff.

“When other schools came to recruit me, it wasn’t the same as Duke," he said. "Other coaches acted different and did not make it as much fun as they did. They were always happy, easy to talk to."”

--Stan Olson

The Great Adventure: West Coast Part II

Tehvyn Brantley’s Great Recruiting Adventure has continued this week with a second trip to the West Coast. And while no more offers have come since North Carolina’s last weekend, it’s been an interesting week.

It started at Oregon State, where the Beavers said they needed one last transcript from Brantley’s Durham Mt. Zion Academy before they could offer.

Then it continued at Southern Cal’s huge camp on Wednesday and Thursday, and once again, Brantley, a 5-foot-8 wide receiver who is often overlooked because of his height, made a splash.

Here's what ESPN.com wrote about him after the first day: “We also liked Tehvyn Brantley, a smaller receiver with nice body control and hands. Brantley received an offer earlier this week from his home-state North Carolina Tar Heels.”

Brantley said the Trojans’ wide receivers coach talked to him at length and was enthusiastic, but said that they have already offered a bunch of WRs and need to see how that shakes out. “He told me to be patient,” Brantley said.

He’s patient, but staying busy, spending the weekend competing in the B2G Elite Camp in Thousand Oaks, Cal.

--Stan Olson

If you know of a commitment, an offer or a visit, please email me at

Friday, June 26, 2009

Gamecocks, Tigers have early recruiting lead

Just a quick update on the efforts of our seven Carolinas’ major programs, as it seems like two or three new commitments are given every day:

SOUTH CAROLINA: The Gamecocks are currently leading our group with 11 commitments, a batch that is tops in quantity and quality, according to Scout.com. Their ratings system gives S.C. three four-star players (five is the max) and three with three stars.

CLEMSON: The Tigers have seven recruits so far, two with four stars and four with three. Another fast start.

DUKE: Easily the biggest surprise of all. Coach David Cutcliffe’s guys are getting quality players to commit, including one four-star athlete and five with three. This is stunning work for what has invariably been the worst recruiting team in the ACC.

N.C. STATE: Coach Tom O’Brien’s staff is gifted at finding sleepers, and while they are credited with one four-star and a trio of threes among their eight commitments, expect this class to play considerably better than that.

NORTH CAROLINA: The Tar Heels have just three recruits, but one (OL James Hurst) is the area’s only five-star commitment. The other two are threes. Remember, though, that UNC is trying to upgrade its recruiting under Butch Davis and is playing with the big boys. Most highly rated recruits with dozens of offers take longer to decide.

WAKE FOREST and EAST CAROLINA: The Deacons have four recruits, just one at the three-star level. The Pirates have three commits, none of them with as many as three stars. But both of these teams have done remarkable jobs of finding overlooked kids who can play; just check the records.

This was a snapshot glance at our teams’ early progress. There’s more—lots more, to come.

--Stan Olson

Gamecocks add to offensive line haul

South Carolina has picked up the commitment of 6-foot-2, 270-pound OL Tramell Williams of Robert E. Lee High in Jacksonville, Fla., giving the Gamecocks four O-Line commitments as the program works to strengthen that area.

Williams, as expected, chose South Carolina over Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Southern Miss and Vanderbilt, all of whom had offered.

S.C. plans to use Williams, who has good quickness for his size, at either guard or center. The program already has one of the best recruits in the nation at the latter position in A.J. Cann of Bamberg (S.C.) Ehrhardt High.

Williams gives the fast-starting Gamecocks 11 commitments for the Class of 2010.

--Stan Olson

Wolfpack may have another sleeper in Green

N.C. State’s week of collecting commitments is continuing with the addition of D.J. Green, a 6-foot-4, 208-pound safety from Westside High in Macon, Ga.

Green, the Wolfpack’s fourth commitment this week, had been a bit under the radar. His other offers were from Alabama-Birmingham, Marshall and Troy. But NCSU has built a tradition of finding hidden gems and turning them into quality college players.

Green visited Raleigh last weekend and, after a few days thought, decided that even though Auburn and Florida have recently shown considerable interest, he had the Wolfpack in his heart.

“He just thought it was the right fit for him,” said Westside High coach Sheddrick Risper. “They treated him like it was home. They really showed that they really cared about him.

Asked about Green’s talents, Risper said, “He can cover. He's very versatile. He's aggressive. He can stop the run. He can cover the pass. He has a long wingspan so he can knock a lot of home-run balls down. And he's smart.”

As a junior, Green had 85 tackles, four interceptions and four fumble recoveries while playing free safety and some wide receiver. He was an all-state and all-conference pick.

Green is N.C. State’s seventh commitment for 2010. And the Wolfpack may just have another one of those gems.

--Stan Olson

If you know of a commitment, offer or visit, email me at

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tar Heels are visited by top defenders

North Carolina had visits from two of the nation’s top defensive players Wednesday and today, according to a source close to the situation. At the school to talk with coaches, see the campus and have their questions answered were OLB Khairi Fortt and DE Alfy Hill.

Hill, a 6-foot-4, 222-pound strongside end with 4.52-second speed from West Brunswick High in Shallotte, has been close to committing to the Tar Heels for some time but still isn’t quite ready to make a final decision. A national Top 100 player, he is also considering N.C. State and a number of other schools among his 30 or so offers.

Fortt, who is 6-2½ and 221 pounds with 4.55 speed, is from Stamford (Conn.) High. He has the Tar Heels among almost 30 offers, but said recently he currently has no favorite. He also also been to Penn State, Rutgers, Auburn and Syracuse.

--Stan Olson

Newest Gamecock commit has played 6 prep games

St. Matthews (S.C.) Calhoun Co. High’s Brandon Golson has been offered and has accepted a scholarship to South Carolina, despite a high school career that totals six games.

Golson, according to our sister paper The State in Columbia, was offered by the Gamecocks after they watched him work out last week.

“He didn’t hesitate,” Saints coach Walt Wilson told The State. “Before he went up there he said, ‘Coach, if they offer me, I’m going to take it.’”
In those six games, though, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Golson had a whopping 18 sacks and 78 total tackles while playing at defensive end. Then, on Oct. 18, a car accident ended his season.

And that was his first season. Wilson had convinced him to come out for football after noticing a 79-inch wingspan tied to 4.5-second speed in the 40-yard dash. He was raw technically but immensely talented.

How talented was obvious in the season’s first game—Golson had four sacks.

Before his visit to Columbia, Golson, a likely LB in college, had been offered scholarships by S.C. State and Wyoming. He had also been invited to visit Florida and Central Florida, but declined.

“A lot of coaches saw film and wanted to see him,” Wilson said. “What happened at South Carolina was they saw him and didn’t need to see film.”

--Stan Olson

Wolfpack grabs commitment from big DT

N.C. State picked up a football commitment on Wednesday from 6-foot-2, 315-pound defensive tackle Thomas Teal of nationally prominent Marlboro County High in Bennettsville, S.C.

Teal called Marlboro coach Dr. Dean Boyd on Wednesday and said he was ready to commit.

"He figured that if State liked him this much and he liked State this much that he ought to go ahead and get it done," Boyd said.

Teal is a two-way player for Marlboro, which finished 10-4 last year and reached the South Carolina state semifinals. The school played four eventual state champions last year.

"He'll play 100 to 125 plays for us," Boyd said. "We use him at right guard on offense and at either nose guard or in a three technique on defense.

"He is a very aggressive football player. He also has good speed for someone his size. He is a great big boy."

Boyd said State was one of the first schools to recruit Teal and said the Pack made it very plain that he was a high priority.

"That was a big factor," Boyd said. "He knew that State wanted him."

Teal also had offers from East Carolina, Duke, Baylor and Illinois.

--Tim Stevens

Wake Forest gets commitment from Texas QB

Wake Forest has received the commitment of QB Tanner Price of Westlake High in Austin, Tex. Price also had offers from Stanford and Rice, and was being recruited by Duke, Vanderbilt and Virginia.

Which tells you he’s no academic slouch. Price, who is 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, is also pretty good on a football field. As a junior, he threw for 2,302 yards and 19 touchdowns in his first season as a starter. He was a backup as a sophomore, and missed much of his freshman season with a knee injury.

He impressed Wake’s coaches with a strong arm and considerable mobility (4.7-second speed in the 40) when he attended a Deacons’ camp early this month.

Price is Wake Forest’s fourth commitment for the Class of 2010.

--Stan Olson

If you know of a commitment, offer or visit, please email me at solson@charlotteobserver.com

One more semester should awaken this sleeper

Remember this name: Rob Fronk.

Just about no one remembered it last year, when recruiters were stopping by Apex High to talk to coach Bob Wolfe about his college prospects.

Fronk was 6-foot-4, but perhaps 195 pounds. Schools couldn’t decide if his future was as a tight end or a big receiver, and he really didn’t seem to fit either role all that well.

“He was running around a 4.7 40-yard dash,” said Wolfe. “And his upper body had not developed at all.”

So the major programs gave Fronk the once-over and then looked elsewhere, despite a 66-catch, 1,027-yard season. His best offer came from Campbell, and he had had his heart set on playing at the highest level.

Then Wolfe had an idea. Why not have Fronk spend a semester improving his game at Hargrave Military Academy, a prep school in Chatham, Va.?

“This wasn’t about academics; his grades are excellent,” Wolfe said. “It was a chance for him to get bigger and stronger.”

And attract more attention. Except that Fronk isn’t waiting until he gets to Hargrave to begin.

“He’s now 6-foot-4¾ and 211 pounds,” Wolfe said. “He’s got his bench-press up from 185 pounds to 275 pounds.”

And that 40-yard dash time has been improving almost by the week. First, it dropped to a consistent 4.6, then into the 4.5s. “Last time we clocked him, we got him at a legitimate 4.43,” Wolfe said.

“He’s going to be a steal for somebody, an absolute steal.

“Just wait and see.”

And maybe our Sleeper of the Year as well.

--Stan Olson

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ECU, Illinois, Wolfpack and Tar Heels vie for Clyburn, but...

West Iredell High’s P.J. Clyburn is a remarkable athlete, capable of playing safety, wide receiver and possibly even linebacker.

“At North Carolina’s camp last week, they worked me out at linebacker, that was my first time there,” Clyburn said this afternoon. “The coach running the drill said 'I'll take you right now.'”

Clyburn already has seven offers—from Arkansas, East Carolina, Illinois, Kentucky, N.C. A&T, N.C. State and Western Carolina. But…

“My coach says I would have 25 if my grades were better,” he admitted.

While he’s on track to graduate, he said, there is room for improvement. And some schools that like him a lot—like North Carolina—are holding back that offer as they wait for it.

Clyburn understands, and plans to improve in that area as a senior.

He says he currently has four favorites—Illinois, N.C. State, UNC and East Carolina. He’s visited the first three, and plans to take an eventual trip to ECU.

Clyburn is 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, and says schools are split on whether to play him at WR or DB. A few more pounds, and he might be an OLB.

As a junior, Clyburn played all over the place, earning all-state honors for special teams. He totaled 78 tackles and five interceptions—two of which he returned for TDs. Offensively, he grabbed 33 passes for 468 yards and three scores. He also rushed 19 times for 166 yards and another touchdown.

Now he’s enjoying the fruits of those labors.

“I’ve got no timeframe on my decision,” he said. “I’m just waiting; I like the recruiting process a lot. It’s fun.”

--Stan Olson

Out-of-state players pick Gamecocks, Tigers

South Carolina has added two more players to its 2010 class, both from beyond the Carolinas. Clemson has picked up an out-of-state commitment of its own.

South Carolina landed OL Ronald Patrick of Cocoa (Fla.) High. He committed after attending the school’s summer camp last week.

Patrick, who also had offers from East Carolina, Middle Tennessee, New Mexico and Kentucky, called Gamecocks OL line coach Eric Wolford and accepted.

“I told him I'm ready to be a Gamecock," Patrick said. “He was very excited. I liked them. My family liked them. My coaches liked them. It's in a great area and I was ready to do something special.”

At 6-1 and 268 pounds, Patrick is expected to play guard or center.

*Also, Brison Williams, a 6-foot, 180-pound DB from Warner Robins (Ga.) High, has committed to the Gamecocks, according to the BigSpur.com. That gives the program ten commitments.

*Clemson also grabbed an O-Line commitment, from 6-foot-5, 270-pound Reid Webster of Etowah High in Woodstock, Ga. The kid can apparently play; his other finalists were Miami and Florida.

Webster said Clemson’s recent camp helped him reach a decision. "It just felt right," he said. “It's where I wanted to play. The new (athletics) facility they are getting is going to be sick.”

Webster, the Tigers’ seventh commitment, is expected to play tackle.

--Stan Olson

If you hear of a commitment, an offer or a visit, email me at

Short Yardage: Mack visits Gamecocks

Just a couple of notes to get us started, with more to come later today:

*Calhoun County OL Eric Mack is taking an unofficial visit to South Carolina today, accompanied by his head coach, Walter Wilson, and his mother. It’s expected to be an all-day session, planned in part to give mom a closer look at the university, since she hasn’t visited yet. Mack, who is 6-foot-4 and 310 pounds, had planned to camp at Alabama last weekend but skipped that trip.

He is The Observer’s No.3-ranked member of our S.C. Top 25 Prospect list and being recruited by virtually every area school.

*North Carolina and South Carolina have lost out to Florida State in the recruiting battle for Tavaris Barnes, a 6-5, 260-pound DT out of First Coast High in Jacksonville, Fla. At one time, the Tar Heels were believed to be in the lead for the athletic Barnes, and the Gamecocks were in his top four all along. He finally decided on the home-state Seminoles after also considering Florida.

--Stan Olson

Ardrey Kell catcher signs with Francis Marion

Francis Marion signed catcher Taylor Patterson of Ardrey Kell High to a national letter of intent. Patterson, 6-foot-1 and 195-pounds, hit .313 this past season and was a captain as Ardrey Kell (27-8) won the N.C. 4A state title.

-- Observer sports staff

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wolfpack continues recruiting roll

N.C. State has added another commitment as well, landing 6-foot-4, 285-pound Torian Box of North Clayton High in College Park, Ga.

Box also had offers from East Carolina, Mississippi State and Alabama-Birmingham, but said he picked the Wolfpack because its coaches showed him “the most love.

“They were one of the best schools recruiting me and I've got a little family around that way. And as soon as I saw their facilities it kind of had me in awe. That really got my attention.”

Box, who currently plays tackle, is expected to switch to guard or center at NCSU.

“For a guy my size, they tell me I've got the quickest feet they've ever seen,” Box said. “So I think my feet are my best quality, along with my technique.”

Box, who is entering his fourth season as a starter, committed on an unofficial visit over the weekend. He wants to play in the NFL, and that contributed to his decision.

“Talking with offensive line coach (Don) Horton, he said the year before they came to N.C. State all five of their Boston College starting linemen went to the NFL. That made me feel pretty good about my decision.”

--Stan Olson

Wake's Jacksonville pipeline going strong

Desmond Cooper, a rising senior safety at The Bolles School (It produced quarterback Riley Skinner, remember), has committed to play football at Wake Forest, according to the Florida Times-Union of Jacksonville.

Cooper, who is 6-2 and 190 pounds, continues a trend of Jacksonville area players picking the Deacons. Four from Bolles are on the current roster, and 14 area players wear black and gold.

“It felt like home, because there are so many players there that I already know,” he said. “It was very important to be able to talk with them and see how much they enjoyed the school.

”Cooper picked Wake over offers from Miami, West Virginia, Maryland and Purdue.

“I wanted to make my decision, because I didn’t want to lose my spot,” Cooper said. “I knew Wake was only taking one safety. I wanted to get out of the state and see something new. I wanted to get away from the humidity.”

--Stan Olson

Gamecocks grab Winston-Salem lineman

Winston-Salem Parkland High defensive tackle JT Surratt has committed to South Carolina. He chose the Gamecocks over offers from Louisville, Marshall, N.C. A&T and Western Carolina.

His decision was reinforced by Columbia’s relatively short distance from Winston-Salem.

“I’m big on family, and I’ve got folks in Columbia and in Charlotte,” he said this afternoon. “I wanted to be able to get the college experience without going too far from home.”

Surratt visited the school about two weeks ago, thought on it awhile and then picked the Gamecocks.

“I had real good relationships with my position coach, Brad Lawing, and my recruiter, coach (Jay) Graham,” he said.

Surratt piled up remarkable numbers as a Parkland junior. His 107 tackles included 27 sacks and 22 tackles for loss. That effort earned him all-conference selection.

One thing the Gamecocks coaches liked about him is his strength; he can bench-press 410 pounds and holds Parkland’s record for the squat of 605 pounds.

--Stan Olson

Great Adventure: North Carolina offers Brantley

All those doubters who thought that we were making a big deal about WR Tehvyn Brantley and that he couldn’t play don’t include North Carolina coach Butch Davis. The Tar Heels have offered Brantley a scholarship.

“Coach Davis said I had great hand-eye coordination,” said Brantley, who talked to Davis at UNC’s camp last week. “He compared me to Santana Moss."

Davis coached Moss, an NFL standout, in his days at the University of Miami.

Many of the doubters have ripped Brantley because of his 5-foot-8 height, but the player has an answer for them, supplied by another coach who has been recruiting him. “He told me the height thing is kind of a rule for wide receivers, but there are always exceptions. He said I was the exception.”

Brantley was talking by phone from the Los Angeles area, where he and dad Leroy are waiting to attend Southern Cal’s camp Wednesday and Thursday. Tehvyn worked out at Oregon State’s camp Sunday after the pair flew west on Saturday.

More offers are expected shortly. UCLA, Auburn, Tennessee and Oregon State might all offer by the end of the week, according to Leroy Brantley.

And so the adventure continues—and now at a higher level.

--Stan Olson

If you know of a commitment, offer or visit by a player, email me at solson@charlotteobserver.com

North Carolina to make Lattimore's Final Five?

Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes High’s Marcus Lattimore, the nation’s top RB by many estimates, visited North Carolina over the weekend with his mother and both really enjoyed the trip.

“She loved it,” Lattimore told our buddy Don Callahan of InsideCarolina.com when he asked about mom. “She loved the city and the people of Chapel Hill. It’s not that big of a city, but it’s fun – she liked that about it. She knows I’d have a good time there.”

Lattimore, who is 6-feet and 210 pounds, is ranked No.1 on our S.C. Top 25 List. He had received offers from most of the country’s leading football powers, but recently cut his list to eight schools--
Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, North Carolina, Penn State, and South Carolina. He plans to have that figure trimmed to five by summer’s end.

UNC could be among them.

North Carolina is going to stick with me for a while,” Lattimore said. “They’re probably going to make my top five at the end of the summer. I love North Carolina.”

His mother has now visited Auburn, Clemson, South Carolina and Tennessee with him.

--Stan Olson

SC Top 25 player picks Vandy over South Carolina

Offensive lineman Logan Stewart of Boiling Springs (S.C.) High has committed to Vanderbilt.

The 6-foot-5, 278-pound Stewart, the No.23 player on our S.C. Top 25 Prospects List, was also offered by South Carolina—his other finalist—East Carolina, Air Force, Appalachian State, Western Carolina and Liberty.

Stewart had camped at Vandy over the weekend before making his decision in favor of the Commodores.

“It’s a good program and I just felt like I fit,” Stewart said a few minutes ago. “It just felt like home.”

He did say it was tough picking Vanderbilt over the Gamecocks, especially after Boiling Springs QB and good buddy Dylan Thompson had committed to South Carolina.

“We had hoped to play together, but it just didn’t happen, and he understands,” Stewart said. “It was a tough call, but Vandy just seemed right for me.”

Others weren’t as understanding; Stewart has heard from a number of people who were upset that he didn’t pick the Gamecocks.

“But I had to do what felt right,” he said.

The Commodores coaches said they could see him playing center, guard or tackle.

“I just want the position that will get me on the field the fastest,” Stewart said.

Stewart is perhaps the strongest player in the state, having bench-pressed 185 pounds 35 times. He was beginning to draw considerable notice from bigger schools.

“I was about to get a whole bunch more offers,” he said. “But I just wanted to get it settled and concentrate on my senior year.”

--Stan Olson

Highly sought WR headed to N.C. State

Tony Creecy had college football offers from all over the country, but on Sunday he decided to stay close to home and committed to N.C. State.

The Southern Durham High wide receiver (6 feet, 210 pounds) had visited Mississippi, Tennessee and LSU, and had more than two dozen offers, but he decided he didn't need to travel far for his college experience.

"Distance was a factor," Southern Durham coach Adrian Jones said. "But he loved N.C. State. It was the first school to offer him, and he admires what Coach [Tom] O'Brien has done. Coach O'Brien won at Boston College, and he is building the foundation at State."

Creecy, ranked No.8 on The Charlotte Observer's Top 25 N.C. Prospects List, liked Ole Miss and strongly considered LSU and Wake Forest, Jones said.

Creecy runs 40 yards in 4.52 seconds. He caught 51 passes for 863 yards during Southern Durham's 9-4 season in 2008.

"I think he is going to have an outstanding college career," Jones said. "State gets the ball to its wide receivers and he can catch it.

"He has great size, tremendous hands and is an incredible athlete. He is just a rare combination of physical tools, speed and athleticism."

Creecy is ranked among the top 10 football prospects in North Carolina by scout.com.

The Wolfpack earlier got a commitment from Chapel Hill lineman Rob Crisp (6-8, 290), who is ranked among the top five players in the state.

-- Tim Stevens, (Raleigh) News & Observer

Saturday, June 20, 2009

UNC commit Marshall shines at NBPA

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Most years when I attend an elite summer basketball camp, I get captivated by some guard who didn’t come in with a top-10 reputation.

One year at ABCD camp in Teaneck, N.J., Scottie Reynolds wowed me with his jaw-dropping scoring ability, long before the famous basket that sent Villanova to the 2009 Final Four.

Another year at the Nike camp in Indianapolis, a flashy player named Greivis Vasquez caught my eye with his vision and court presence. Vasquez is returning to Maryland now for his senior season and has the Terps in position to challenge for a top spot in the ACC.

This year’s surprise, though, was unlike any of the others. I’d heard few opinions about Reynolds or Vasquez before I saw them play, so I didn’t know what to expect. But heading into this year’s NBA Players Association camp at the University of Virginia, I’d heard plenty about point guard Kendall Marshall of Arlington, Va., and a lot of it wasn’t good.

Marshall had a strike against him from the start because he committed to North Carolina in September of 2007, when he was just beginning his sophomore year. In general, I consider commitments before a prospect’s junior year of high school to be a mistake because neither the player nor the college coach knows how much that player is going to grow and mature by the time he actually arrives on campus.

A lot of early commitments result in unhappy marriages. Judging by what I’d heard about Marshall recently, there was a danger that this was going to be the case with him. I’d heard that he doesn’t fit the world-class sprinter mold that made Raymond Felton and Ty Lawson the perfect catalysts for Roy Williams’ fast breaking offense as the Tar Heels captured the 2005 and 2009 NCAA titles.

In the almost two years since Marshall has committed to North Carolina, his ranking generally has fallen from top-10 to top-30 because he lacks that explosive athletic ability. So when I prepared to watch him last week at the NBPA camp, I was fairly certain I’d conclude that offering him a scholarship was a mistake for Roy Williams.

Boy, was I wrong. After watching Marshall, I’ve concluded that I wouldn’t want any other point guard in the class if I was starting a college team. In terms of sheer talent, Marshall can’t come close to matching the scoring ability and defensive prowess of Brandon Knight of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who’s the top point guard prospect in the class.

But nobody at the camp came close to running a team the way Marshall does. On the fast break he consistently found the right teammate for a dunk or a layup. In the halfcourt offense, he ran off ball screens with precision. He used a clever change of pace – starting slow, then exploding with a quick first step – to drive past more athletic defenders.

Teammates knew that if they moved without the ball, he would find them. And he did – often – for easy baskets. Throughout the camp, all he cared about was winning. His team, which also featured highly rated Class of 2011 forward Michael Gilchrist, finished undefeated and won the tournament championship. And Marshall took home the Most Valuable Player award, even though he averaged just seven points a game, because of his leadership and ability to run a team.

After all that, I’ll gladly add Marshall to my all-time list of favorite elite summer camp guards.

Here are some evaluations of other players of interest in the Carolinas who were at the NBPA camp:

Andre Dawkins: With rising senior Jon Scheyer leaving after next season, Duke appears to have a capable replacement for 2010-11 at shooting guard in Dawkins. Both players are 6-foot-5, and Dawkins is a superior athlete even though he lacks Scheyer’s cunning and ability to play point guard in a pinch. Dawkins, who made the NBPA camp all-star game, should be able to contribute immediately as a freshman.

Josh Hairston: Some observers who saw Duke commitment Hairston play last summer say he hasn’t made the progress they expected. I didn’t see Hairston last summer, but I think he is a moderately high level ACC-caliber player. He can make mid-range jump shots and even scores from the 3-point arc at 6-foot-8, so he seems suited for the versatile forward role Kyle Singler plays for Duke. Hairston isn’t close to being as dynamic or physical as Singler, but is much more gifted on offense than Lance Thomas. Hairston should be a solid forward for Duke.

C.J. Leslie: When uncommitted Holly Springs native Leslie puts his heart into a game, he can be sensational. At 6-foot-9 he attacks the basket on a fast break like a point guard, and he blocks shots and scores on the block with regularity. Exactly which position he will play in college is a matter of debate. But if you don’t get hung up on his position, the guy can just flat-out play.

Reggie Bullock: A North Carolina commitment from Kinston, Bullock is the epitome of a steady player on the wing. He probably didn’t help his status as much as Marshall, Dawkins or Leslie at the NBPA camp, but Bullock is solid in all phases of his game. He knocks down open 3-point shots, rebounds well for a shooting guard at 6-7 and can create off the dribble if needed.

J.T. Terrell: A Burlington native who’s committed to play shooting guard at Wake Forest, Terrell seldom meets a shot he doesn’t like. He can be careless with the ball and needs to improve his defense, but also can score in bunches, as evidenced by a camp-high-tying game of 26 points early in the camp.

Jarell Eddie:
The Concord Cannon forward and Virginia Tech commitment impressed scouts with his ability to shoot from the perimeter at the camp. He was listed at 6-foot-7 but seems a bit taller and might have the ability to bang underneath as a power forward even though he’s listed as a small forward.

- Ken Tysiac

Friday, June 19, 2009

Gilchrist's intensity impresses at NBPA

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - At 15 years old, Michael Gilchrist is almost certain to make tens of millions of dollars in his basketball career.

Here’s why.

Gilchrist recently helped his team from New Jersey win the championship at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions club basketball event in the Triangle. He is a 6-foot-7 forward with incredible spring and body control who’s one of the top few players in the Class of 2011.

On Friday morning, Gilchrist turned an ankle at the NBA Players Association top 100 camp at the University of Virginia. His team at camp was 3-0 and about to play an overmatched opponent Friday evening when he had a long conversation with camp director Dave Telep.

Gilchrist wanted to play. Telep said it took 15 minutes to convince him that he would be better off sitting out for a night.

“He’s so competitive,” Telep said.

With Gilchrist sitting out, his team breezed to another win Friday night behind point guard Kendall Marshall. A North Carolina commitment, Marshall isn’t one of the high scorers at the camp and wasn’t selected for the camp all-star game.

But nobody at the camp is better at getting his teammates open shots.

Others on the injured list at camp include Class of 2011 wing P.J. Hairston of Greensboro, who’s on crutches because of what Telep called a tissue injury, and Charlotte United Faith Christian point guard Ian Miller, who’s committed to Florida State.

A gimpy Miller made a game attempt to play Friday morning but clearly wasn’t at his best.
Here are more observations from Friday night at the NBPA camp:

- Wing forward Harrison Barnes of Ames, Iowa, hasn’t been as dominating as expected at the camp.

He averaged 12 points in two games Thursday and 15 points in Friday’s two games, but has yet to score more than 16 in a game. You would expect more from the top-rated player in the Class of 2010, but it’s impossible to tell how a stomach virus Barnes suffered early in the week is affecting him.

- All-Star Sports recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons had Ohio State-bound power forward Jared Sullinger of Columbus rated No. 1 in the class before the NBPA camp, and Sullinger has been impressive.

He cleverly positions his 6-foot-9, 270-pound body for strong finishes around the basket, and he’s not the only good big guy from Ohio in the class. Adreian Payne of Dayton is less powerful at 6-9 and 215 pounds, but has more spring.

- Ken Tysiac

NBPA: Barnes clangs, Marshall clinches

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Duke and North Carolina target Harrison Barnes had a chance to win a game in overtime for his team during Friday morning’s session at the NBA Players Association top 100 camp at the University of Virginia.

Barnes, who’s considered the top player in the Class of 2010 by scout.com dribbled to the left elbow and saw his 16-foot jump shot rattle off the front rim. After a jump ball, the opposing team took control and got the ball to North Carolina point guard commitment Kendall Marshall.

His team blew an 18-point lead in regulation and went to overtime after an injury to highly regarded Class of 2011 talent Michael Gilchrist of Elizabeth, N.J.

Marshall drove the lane against highly regarded Findlay Prep point guard Cory Joseph and found a teammate, James Johnson, wide open for a winning layup.

“We’re undefeated so far,” Marshall said, smiling.

Marshall said he still would like to get more athletic before he enrolls at North Carolina next season, but his vision and ability to change speeds make him a constant threat in the half-court offense.

Here are more observations from the morning games at the NBPA camp:

- Raleigh Word of God Academy’s C.J. Leslie said he wants to be more of a leader this year in his second appearance at the NBPA camp.

He was following through on that goal Friday morning, hollering out defensive instructions to teammates louder than anybody else on the floor and continuing even when he was on the bench.

“Pick left,” he screamed moments before a steal, followed by a “there we go.”

By the third day of camp, Leslie’s team had adjusted to his unusual ability to control the ball and run the fast break as a 6-foot-9 power forward. If he continues to excel in this manner, he could take a run at the top 10 in his class when the post-summer rankings come out.

- Three Class of 2010 point guards – in addition to current commitment Tyler Thornton – are believed to be on Duke’s radar.

Brandon Knight of Fort Lauderdale clearly has established himself as the best and most athletic player at the position in the class. Kyrie Irving of Elizabeth, N.J., got off to a slow start at the NBPA after a strong showing in the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions on Memorial Day weekend.

Detroit’s Ray McCallum isn’t as highly rated as Irving, but could be climbing after this week. He has a commanding presence with the ball and knows how to penetrate and finish in the lane.

Thornton, meanwhile, is an unselfish player with unusually good defensive positioning. But he’s not even the best guard on his team in camp. That’s Keith Appling, who’s headed to Michigan State.

- Through three sessions, Wake Forest shooting guard commitment J.T. Terrell of Burlington had the highest-scoring game with a 26-point effort on Thursday night.

Terrell should be a prominent part of the Deacons’ backcourt beginning in 2010. Wake Forest just lost Jeff Teague as an early entry in the NBA draft and has Ish Smith and L.D. Williams departing after 2009-10.

“(Coach Dino Gaudio) really wants me to work hard on my defense,” Terrell said. “I made a promise to him that this summer and next school year I would work on my defense.”

- Ken Tysiac

Thursday, June 18, 2009

NBPA point guards: Knight outduels Irving

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - More observations from the NBPA top-100 camp for elite high school prospects:

- The most highly anticipated point guard meeting of the camp came Thursday night, when Brandon Knight of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., squared off with Kyrie Irving of Elizabeth, N.J.

Both players are Duke targets. Score this round to Knight, who’s an inch or two taller and more athletic than Irving. Knight penetrated and scored with ease, and Irving wasn’t strong enough to get into the lane against Knight.

Earlier Thursday night, another point guard demonstrated that he deserved the early scholarship offer he accepted from North Carolina. Kendall Marshall of Arlington, Va., isn’t a scorer like Knight or Irving, and he admits that he’s not fast like former Tar Heel point guards Raymond Felton and Ty Lawson.

But Marshall plays under control and does a good job penetrating and then finding teammates for easy baskets.

- Baylor missed out on Raleigh Word of God point guard John Wall despite hiring his AAU coach, Dwon Clifton.

But the Bears won’t be without elite talent for long. Perry Jones, who’s 6-foot-11 and from Duncanville, Texas, is a true power player in the Class of 2010 who shows a good combination of speed and explosion.

Though he’s not nearly as flashy as Wall, Jones should be a force on the boards for as long as he’s in the Big 12.

- Duke commitment Josh Hairston’s stock had dropped heading into this spring, but he appears to be on the rebound.

Hairston is 6-foot-8 and 215 pounds and routinely beats his opponents down the floor, demonstrating hustle and speed. He maneuvers cleverly in the lane and can shoot the 3-point shot.

When caught on a defensive switch against highly rated small forward Jeremy Richmond on the perimeter, Hairston pressured him, causing a futile drive and airball by Richmond.
Hairston played well at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions club event for the D.C. Assault and is off to a strong start at the NBPA camp.

- The Class of 2010 appears to have a high-quality 7-footer in Fab Melo of Weston, Fla.

Melo is 7-0 and 265 pounds and isn’t just a bruiser. He has fairly polished low-post moves and a feathery jump shot from 15 feet.

- The player at the NBPA camp you might not want as a teammate is Wake Forest commitment J.T. Terrell of Burlington, N.C.

Terrell is a heck of a scorer. But he must have missed camp director Dave Telep’s request in front of all the campers to pass more often before Thursday night’s games, because Terrell shot the ball at virtually every opportunity.

- Ken Tysiac

Leslie still defining role

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - As Raleigh Word of God Academy forward C.J. Leslie expands his game, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to figure out where he should play on the floor.

Leslie is competing along with some of the top high school prospects in the nation at the NBA Players Association’s top-100 camp at the University of Virginia this week.

He handles the ball well enough at 6-foot-9 to play a sort of point forward role. But when he is trying to create shots away from the basket, the guards on his team seem uncertain what to do.

In a less organized camp setting, at least, Leslie is more effective posting up and crashing the boards for offensive rebounds. Leslie, a former N.C. State commitment whose schools of local interest include North Carolina, N.C. State and Wake Forest, said he remains wide open in the recruiting process.

He recently took an unofficial visit to North Carolina, where he played pickup against NBA players Raymond Felton and Jason Terry, and rising Tar Heel freshman John Henson.

“(Roy Williams) is a pretty up-front guy about his coaching and the way he coaches,” Leslie said. “He really told me how he is going to coach and gave me a tour of the school.”

Leslie said he plans to make more unofficial visits this summer. Florida, Maryland, Kentucky and Wake Forest are among the possibilities.

- One of the most notable roster losses at the NBPA camp is that of N.C. State point guard commitment Ryan Harrow.

The rising senior at Walton High in Marietta, Ga., is attending the camp but won’t play because of an ankle injury. Another N.C. State target, forward Luke Cothron of Flora MacDonald Academy in Red Springs, N.C., was a no-show at the camp.

Dave Telep, the camp director, said Cothron didn’t call to give a reason that he wasn’t coming. Although that’s not likely to dim N.C. State’s interest in him, it won’t help him improve his stature among the top prospects in the class.

Scout.com has Cothron ranked No. 16 in the Class of 2010.

- Duke commitment Andre Dawkins of Chesapeake, Va., is off to a fast start at the NBPA camp.

A 6-5 shooting guard, he scored 17 points in his opening game Thursday afternoon, displaying the ability to finish on the fast break and score from 3-point range.

Another Duke target, guard Brandon Knight of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., posted the morning session’s top scoring outing with 24 points.

- Ken Tysiac

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Short Yardage: McQueen, Brantley, etc.

South Pointe High offensive lineman Jacob McQueen has received his first offer, from Gardner-Webb. “Assistant coach (Mike) Doolittle told Jacob that his footwork and work ethic were so good that he believes he could play any position on the offensive line,” said McQueen’s father, Dan.

*Tehvyn Brantley’s Great Adventure is veering off in another direction. Now, after camping at a half-dozen schools, he’s planning to attend some national combines later in the summer, according to father Leroy.

The pair had slowed their pace earlier when Tehvyn’s mother, Jackie Alston of Henderson, became ill.

Leroy also said there was some miscommunication on Buffalo’s offer to Tehvyn. "They told us they had withdrawn the offer at this time,” Leroy said. “We didn’t tell them we were not interested.”

*Hickory Grove Christian OG/MLB Drew Morgan, who is heading into his sophomore season, will attend the Utimate 100 Combine in Atlanta Friday. Even though he’s Class of 2012, Morgan has already been receiving interest from schools like Texas, Nebraska, UCLA, Vanderbilt and others.

*Army has begun showing interest in Charlotte Latin’s Paul Paschal, according to coach Larry McNulty.

If you know of a player making a commitment, receiving an offer or taking a visit, email solson@charlotteobserver.com.

By the way, this blog will be quiet through Monday, as I make up a few vacation days. Keep any tips you have coming in, though, and I'll track 'em down Tuesday, when I'm back on the job.

A little more on the Gamecocks' big catch

A bit more on highly rated Bamberg (S.C.)-Ehrhardt offensive lineman A.J. Cann, who committed to South Carolina at a press conference at his school earlier today:

Cann, who picked the Gamecocks over North Carolina and also strongly considered Clemson, said during his announcement that a key to his decision was his relationship with the S.C. coaches, particularly Shane Beamer and O-line coach Eric Wolford.

From the point that they've been on me since I got started with this recruiting stuff, they’ve been recruiting me hard,” he said, Cann said during his announcement. “And the relationship that I've got with all the coaches up there (is great). They love me so much, and they've just been with me ever since I got started. I've just liked Carolina since then.”

Asked about his early commitment, Cann said, “I really didn’t want to wait it out. I knew it was going to be an early decision because from the point that they offered me, I knew I was going to go ahead and go to Carolina. I was just thinking, ‘What's the point in waiting if I know that's where I am going?’”

Cann also said he is attempting to recruit other in-state stars for the Gamecocks, such as RB Marcus Lattimore and OL Eric Mack.

--Stan Olson

A.J. Cann picks South Carolina

Bamberg (S.C.)-Ehrhardt offensive lineman A.J. Cann has committed to South Carolina, he said at a late morning press conference at the school today.

He picked the Gamecocks over North Carolina and Clemson.

Cann, the No.9 prospect on our S.C. Top 25 List, had more than 30 scholarship offers. But after saying nice things about the Tar Heels and Tigers, pulled on a South Carolina jersey and cap.

Getting Cann is a huge pickup for South Carolina, as the Gamecocks keep the 6-foot-3, 265-poung Cann at home. More on this later today.

--Stan Olson

Latin's Myers kicking at North Carolina today

Who is the most heavily recruited player on Charlotte Latin’s football team?

How about kicker Sam Myers, who is being looked at closely by a number of major powers.

“Sam went to some of those kicking combines, particularly the one in Las Vegas, where he was the top guy, and suddenly the phone calls started,” said Latin coach Larry McNulty.

Sam, according to dad Dave Myers, has visited Alabama. LSU and Memphis would both like him to visit—unfortunately their camps happen to be on the same day, July 25.

“Stanford got in touch with us, but his mom (Leigh) vetoed that,” Dave said. “Too far away, and we’ll have a younger one playing on Friday nights.”

Illinois is recruiting Sam heavily, but that too, may be too long a trip.

“He’s thinking ACC and SEC, and really in the South,” his father said.

Today, Sam is camping at North Carolina. He’ll go to N.C. State Friday and Wofford on Saturday.

Kickers have always been something of an afterthought in college football recruiting. Yeah, we got all our tackles and wide receivers. Let’s invite a bunch of high school kicker/punters to walk on.

While it’s still like that to a degree, the kicking camps and combines, and players like Myers are changing that.

“He’s been working with an ex-professional kicker (former Tar Heels standout Dan Orner),” McNulty said. “He’s got great hang time and a very strong leg.”

Even before Myers began polishing his technique, he was a weapon for Latin last season as a junior, earning all-state honors. He made four of five field goals for a team that rarely attempted them. He also converted 47 of 54 extra-points.

“He kicked and punted for us, and I’d say 70 percent of his kickoffs went into the end zone,” McNulty said. “He’s really good and he’s getting better.”

--Stan Olson

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Spartanburg's Jones picks Michigan

For Cornelius Jones, it was always Michigan.

Jones, a rising senior QB at Spartanburg High, got home today from a visit to the Ann Arbor school, leaving the Wolverines with his commitment.

“It was a great trip,” he said. “I loved the coaches, the history, the tradition, the education you can get. It’s amazing how many highlights that school has.”

Michigan had offered the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Jones months ago, beating most area schools to the punch. Although he also had offers from Duke, Wake Forest, Syracuse and Stanford, the Wolverines had been leading all along.

Michigan has always been in my mind and the other schools around here didn’t offer,”Jones said, referring to Clemson and South Carolina in particular.

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said he would start Jones out at quarterback, and if that didn’t work out, most likely move him to wide receiver.

“That would be okay,” said Jones, who has 4.47 speed in the 40-yard dash. “I like wide receiver. But I’m looking forward to giving quarterback a try.”

--Stan Olson

If you know of a commitment, an offer or even a visit coming up for a Carolinas player, email me at solson@charlotteobserver.com

Leifheit visiting North Carolina, narrowing choices

Wilmington Hoggard High’s T.J. Leifheit, arguably the best offensive lineman in the state after Chapel Hill High’s Robert Crisp, has been quietly narrowing his college choices.

“He’s at North Carolina’s camp this week, and then he’s going to Florida in a week or so,” Hoggard coach Scott Braswell said moments ago. “He’s getting closer to narrowing it down.”

Braswell said that he believes Leifheit’s short list includes UNC, Florida, Southern Cal, Tennessee and Ohio State.

“After his Florida trip, I think he’s going to stay home and concentrate on high school football,” Braswell said. “Then he’ll take his official visits in the fall.”

Leifheit is a 6-foot-7, 320-pound offensive tackle who is on track to graduate in December. He’ll likely make a verbal commitment a month or two prior to that.

--Stan Olson

South Carolina gets in-state QB commitment

Dylan Thompson came to South Carolina’s football camp Sunday with one scholarship offer, from Furman.

After an impressive showing and a half-hour visit with coach Steve Spurrier, he left Monday afternoon as a future Gamecock.

Thompson, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound quarterback from Boiling Springs (S.C.) High, committed to South Carolina during his visit.

“I worked out hard and it seemed like coach Spurrier liked me a lot,” Thompson said this morning. “Everybody was just so energetic there, and their fans are very knowledgeable; a lot of people seemed to know my name. In my heart, I knew it was the place for me.”

Thompson said Spurrier would prefer him to redshirt during his freshman year, and he agrees.

“Just give me time to settle in to college life and get bigger, stronger, faster,” Thompson said.

In seven games as a junior, Thompson totaled 1,200 passing yards and 13 TDs, while also running for almost 400 yards and five touchdowns.

South Carolina has had problems at the QB position, but Thompson, along with fellow quarterback recruit Conner Shaw of Flowery Branch, Ga., will get a chance to remedy that.--Stan Olson

Monday, June 15, 2009

Clemson gets commitment from DB

Allendale-Fairfax DB Bashaud Breeland has committed to Clemson, he confirmed this afternoon. Breeland is the Tigers’ sixth commitment in the Class of 2010.

The rising senior, a likely safety or eventual LB at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, was also offered by Auburn, Maryland, Michigan, N.C. State, Penn State, South Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

Breeland, who was convinced during his stay at Clemson’s camp last week, said his commitment is firm.

“It's where I wanted to be,” he said. “I get along real well with the coaches and the players.”

As a junior, Breeland was in on 156 tackles and had three interceptions.

--Stan Olson

Cofield "100 percent committed" to Duke

I just talked with Tarboro High offensive lineman Takoby Cofield and he said his commitment to Duke’s Class of 2010 is rock-solid.

“I’m 100 percent committed,” he said, adding that he made up his mind after visiting the Durham school Saturday. “After this past weekend, I decided I just couldn’t pass this opportunity up.”

He also had official offers from East Carolina and Wake Forest, with the promise of many others should he attend their summer camps.

And no wonder; Cofield says he’s now a legitimate 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, big enough that the Blue Devils plan to start him out at left tackle. He, like so many linemen, will likely be redshirted as a freshman.

“It’s been crazy,” he said of today. “It seems like all of a sudden a million people know my name. I’m getting all these emails, and my Facebook page has been blowing up.

Cofield really likes the fact that Duke is now recruiting hard in North Carolina, not just plucking sleepers from around the country.

“They’re not just going after guys in California, Canada, Rhode Island, New York,” he said. “They told me they think they need to win with guys from in-state, guys from home.”

Cofield, who said offensive coordinator Matt Luke and Marion Hobby, his primary recruiter, “seem like extended family,” wants to be a part of that.

--Stan Olson

North Carolina looking early at Worley

North Carolina is apparently making an early push for Rock Hill Northwestern rising junior QB Justin Worley, who camped in Chapel Hill over the weekend. We’ve heard that the Tar Heels made Worley a verbal offer, and that a number of other schools have done the same thing.

Worley (left) is already 6-foot-5, giving him great quarterback size. But Northwestern coach Jimmy Wallace is even more impressed with the mental side of his young QB.

“He’s the most mature tenth grade player I've had in 37 years of coaching,” Wallace said. “He has tremendous potential.”

Worley is a natural athlete, also a standout in baseball (pitcher) and basketball (forward).

Next season, he could blossom into a national recruiting target, and obviously UNC wants in on the ground floor.

--Stan Olson

If you know of a player making a commitment, receiving an offer, or taking a significant visit, please email me at solson@charlotteobserver.com

Source: Tarboro lineman commits to Duke

A source close to the situation says that Takoby Cofield, an offensive lineman at Tarboro High, has committed to Duke.

Cofield, who is now 6-foot-5 1/2 and 290 pounds, chose the Blue Devils over offers from East Carolina and Virginia Tech, according to our last conversation with him.

He had been drawing more and more interest in recent weeks, as his game tape and combine results began to spread. He said he had been a North Carolina fan his entire life, but an offer from the Tar Heels apparently never materialized.

More on this later today.

--Stan Olson

The Great Adventure: Part Six

When last we left our intrepid pair—wide receiver Tehvyn Brantley of Durham and dad Leroy—The Adventure had been put on hold because of Tehvyn’s mother’s illness. Instead of taking scheduled trips to camps at UCLA, California, Rice, LSU and Clemson, last week, the pair returned to Durham, where Tehvyn attends Durham Mt. Zion Academy and his mother lives.

Toward the end of last week, though, she began encouraging Tehvyn to get on the road again.
“She’s still a little under the weather, but she told me, ‘You know you need to go do what you have to do,” Tehvyn said.

So Leroy confirmed trips to camps at Georgia on Saturday and Auburn on Sunday.

didn’t go so well.

“I thought it went pretty good, but the Georgia wide receivers coach there told me I’m not the type of player they’re looking for,” Tehvyn said.

And while coaches can’t comment on prospects, you have to assume that the thing that hurts Brantley with so many schools is his height—5-foot-8 is considered small for a WR.

Brantley, though, likes to compare himself to the Panthers’ Steve Smith. He has great speed, can out-jump most defenders and has a hunger for the football. He showed that the following day at Auburn.

“I was pretty much unguardable in one-on-one drills,” Tehvyn said, laughing as the pair headed up Interstate 85 to Charlotte. “I’m pretty sure they’ll offer me (a scholarship). Their coaches, particularly wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor, talked to me about how I could fit into their offense.

“They looked at my highlight tape and loved it. Now they say all they need to see is a full game tape to wrap it up.”

With good news in his back pocket, Tehvyn had planned to work out at South Carolina today, but apparently picked up an intestinal bug over the weekend. So the Gamecocks are out for now, his dad just said. Where next? On this Adventure, nothing is quite certain.

--Stan Olson

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Clemson's interested in Sleeper McQueen

JACOB MCQUEEN, Guard/Center, Rock Hill South Pointe

Until recently, Jacob McQueen’s college football future appeared limited to smaller schools in the area. Programs like The Citadel, Charleston Southern, Wofford, Presbyterian and Gardner Webb were working him hard, all the while hoping the big boys wouldn’t notice.

At least one of the big guys, though, has awakened. McQueen attended Clemson’s camp at the beginning of the week, and Wednesday, Tigers associate head coach Brad Scott walked over after the session and talked to Jacob’s father, Daniel.

“He has had a great week at Clemson’s camp. (Scott said) they are definitely interested in Jacob. He says they have a file on him and really love his heart and work ethic. They are looking at him as a center.”

While the smaller schools continue to work Jacob hard, South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee are also beginning to establish contact.

As a junior, the 6-foot-4, 254-pound McQueen started every game for the Stallions at guard, as the team won the S.C. 4-A Division II state title. He was named to the Rock Hill Herald’s All-Area team. He could play some center as well in the fall.

“He’s got the capability to play guard or center in college,” said South Pointe coach Bobby Carroll. “He’s worked extremely hard in the off-season, putting on weight and making himself better. And he’s already qualified academically.”

McQueen runs a 5.2-second 40-yard dash and a 4.69 pro shuttle, which tests agility. He also has a 28-inch vertical jump and can bench-press 295 pounds.

And while Clemson may be the first BCS school to wake up to this sleeper, expect more to follow.

--Stan Olson

Elon offers Charlotte Christian's Fulginiti

While most of the attention is focused on Charlotte Christian’s three remarkable LBs, the program has others who can play—like offensive lineman Sam Fulginiti.

Fulginiti, a rising senior who is 6-foot-3 and 275 pounds, has received his first offer, from Elon, according to coach Jason Estep. Expect more shortly. He’s being recruited by a number of FCS schools.

“Sam has good athleticism; he's not one of those big sloppy linemen," Estep said. Fulginiti had 32 tackles as a junior, with 2 sacks and a defensed pass. He's also an outstanding baseball player, a power-hitting first baseman.

--Stan Olson

Friday, June 12, 2009

Raleigh LB still likes Clemson, Duke, N.C. State, South Carolina

Southeast Raleigh High LB Kendall Moore has taken his vat of scholarship offers and cut his possibilities to seven. He says he has no favorite, so we’ll list them in alphabetical order—Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Maryland, N.C. State, Notre Dame and South Carolina.

He says he has a visit to Notre Dame coming up on June 26.

North Carolina did not make the cut—the Tar Heels never officially offered and have not been recruiting him hard.

--Stan Olson

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North Carolina grabs another Hurst

If you thought the recent decision of offensive lineman Aaron Stahl to forgo his final year of eligibility would open another spot for a member North Carolina’s huge and highly rated incoming class of 2009, think again.

That opening will fall instead to tight end Nelson Hurst, whose transfer from Mississippi State was recently reported by InsideCarolina.com. Name sound familiar? Maybe because the Tar Heels already have a 2010 commitment from James Hurst, his brother and one of the top prep linemen in the nation.

Now he and Nelson will get to play together, after Nelson sits out his transfer year as a redshirt and James plays his final high school season at Plainfield High in Indianapolis.

Nelson, who will have three years of eligibility left in Chapel Hill, played as a true freshman for the Bulldogs, starting ten of 12 games, blocking well and catching two passes. But the program is shifting from a West Coast style-offense to a spread, which would limit his future use, and that prompted his transfer to UNC.

*Despite the addition of Nelson Hurst, North Carolina appears to have its scholarship numbers squared away. Three players are expected in enroll at Hargrave Military Academy to get their academics in order next season, which will place the Tar Heels at the limit.

*Also making a difference is the fact that highly rated football commitment Donavan Tate, a remarkable athlete, was picked first by San Diego and third overall in this week’s MLB Draft. That means that—with the despised but effective Scott Boras as his agent—Tate could wind up with a bonus of $5 million or more. And it also means that Tate will almost certainly never set foot on the Kenan Stadium turf.

--Stan Olson