Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wolfpack, Pirates, W.Va. jump on a sleeper

His name is Josh Morehead, and I had never heard of him until an alert reader tipped me off this morning. One of the problems is that he plays at Eastern Guilford High in Gibsonville, and his team is off to an 0-5 start.

But I called Eastern Guilford coach Scott Loosemore, and he simply raved about Morehead.

"There's nothing not to like about Josh as a player," Loosemore said. "He's the next-best player in the area after Keenan Allen, and he'd be as good as Keenan if he had his size.”

Josh, who is 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, is starting to blow up after being moved to QB in the fourth game of the season. In two games since, he has 275 rushing yards and 4 TDs, and 332 passing yards and 4 more scores, with one pick.

Morehead could always play. As a sophomore, he was an all-state DB with 10 interceptions, and he had 6 last year and made all-state again. This year, he has 3 picks, and his 6 kickoff returns have gone for 380 yards (a 63.3-yard average). Two went for touchdowns, and he was caught after 85 yards on another.

Now teams kick anywhere but to him.

N.C.
State
, East Carolina and West Virginia are among about a dozen teams that have started noticing Morehead. Although none of the BCS schools has offered yet, Loosemore expects that to happen shortly.

The Tar Heels aren’t in the mix yet, but if they do offer, we could call it the Morehead scholarship.
Sorry.

“I just wish I had put him at quarterback sooner,” Loosemore said.

--Stan Olson

The King is gone, long live the, well, Crisp

With the departure of DE Gabe King for Oregon—he has enrolled at South Eugene High—The Observer’s NC Top 25 Prospects list will have a new No.1 player, as everyone moves up a spot. That means that OL Robert Crisp of Athens Drive High is our new top dog, taking over from Gabe.

It also means that everyone else on the list moves up one spot. At the end of the group, No. 25 Tehvyn Brantley is now 24th, meaning I’ve got to find a new No.25 for the list.

Have any suggestions? I’ll be checking with coaches and writers, but feel free to make your own pitch. But just because little Johnny scored six TDs against the Rhubarb Academy last week doesn’t make him a good candidate.

Anyway, let’s get this thing back up to 25 guys again.

--Stan Olson

Reach me at solson@charlotteobserver.com

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Another step for Tar Heels/Gamecocks target Brantley

Durham Mt. Zion wide receiver Tehvyn Brantley, who has offers from North and South Carolina, took another step in his development Friday when he was abruptly shifted to quarterback for his team’s game at Highland Tech in Gastonia.

“Our regular quarterback transferred,” Brantley said.

You might call the move a success.

First, Mt. Zion blew out the home team, 42-13

Brantley’s first game at QB produced 228 yards rushing and three TDs, along with 140 yards passing and two more scores.

“We worked out of the spread, or out of a Wildcat formation,” said Brantley, bubbling enthusiastically. “The ball in my hands, it just felt natural to me. It felt comfortable. It felt great.”

He knows schools won’t suddenly start recruiting him as a quarterback -- he’s 5-foot-8. But he plans on enjoying it while it lasts.

And there’s a bit more news.

“My dad said N.C. State is showing some interest now,” Brantley said.

As a wide receiver, of course.

--Stan Olson

New Football Recruiting Database coming

If you know of a prep player who is being recruited -- or is worthy of being recruited -- but who is missing from the current version of our recruiting database, let me know this afternoon.

David Enna will be adding in the new schools and players I’ve collected since the version 1.0 came out.

Contact me at solson@charlotteobserver.com.

-- Stan Olson

Wolfpack making a late push for Cavaliers' commit and QB Tyler Brosius

Waynesville Tuscola quarterback Tyler Brosius was an early commitment to Virginia. But after taking in the Wolfpack’s victory over Pittsburgh in Raleigh last weekend, that commitment may softening. His dad Mike said moments ago that nothing has been finalized, that his son remains a Cavaliers’ commitment for now. But the Wolfpack—late to offer him—apparently made a strong impression on Tyler.

Although this is a down year for QBs in North Carolina, Brosius is the best in the state, ranked No. 21 on our Top 25 NC prospects list. Through five games, the 6-foot-3, 228-pound pocket passer has completed 63 percent of his passes, with eight TDs, leading Tuscola to a 3-1-1 start.

--Stan Olson

Myers invited to visit Tar Heels; McQueen, Jenkins also hitting the road

Sam Myers of Charlotte Latin, a senior and one of the state’s top kicker/punter combinations, has been invited up to North Carolina for an unofficial visit this weekend.

*Myers Park Banks Jenkins, a 6-foot-5 senior wide receiver/safety, travels to Charleston Saturday on an unofficial visit to The Citadel for the Appalachian State game. Jenkins leads the county with 600 receiving yards.

*Rock Hill South Pointe senior OL Jacob McQueen took an unofficial visit to Appalachian State Saturday for the Samford game, his second trip to Boone. He also attended Clemson’s game with Middle Tennessee earlier. He’s going to Charleston Southern this weekend and Gardner-Webb Oct. 17.

--Stan Olson

Keep me posted on offers, visits and commitments. Drop a note to solson@charlotteobserver

Monday, September 28, 2009

Clemson, Crimson Tide, Wolfpack in early on Berry sophomore

Berry High sophomore Germon Hopper—remember that name—is already drawing national attention, according to his coach, Andrew Howard.

“He’s been invited down to Clemson in two weeks for the Wake Forest game,” Howard said today. “Alabama’s already strongly interested in him, and N.C. State has been in contact.”

Hopper, who is 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds, already has 4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash, according to Howard. He plays running back and wide receiver, and returns kickoffs and punts.

Last season—get this--as a ninth-grader, Hopper had around 2,400 all-purpose yards as a member of the varsity, Howard estimated.

“He’s the hardest worker on the team,” his coach said. “He can already bench-press 265 pounds.

“He’s a kid to watch.”

Everyone will be, and soon.

--Stan Olson

Concord 1st Assembly hoops team gets a 7-foot boost

We normally give you football and more football in this space, but how about a basketball tall tale?

David Wishon, a 7-foot-1, 275-pound center who played at Concord High last season, has transferred to Concord First Assembly, along with “little brother” Brett, who is currently 6-7 and a junior.

David averaged 6.5 points a game last season, but was regularly double-teamed by opponents. He will be taking an official visit to Dartmouth this weekend.

Brett played junior varsity at Concord, making 43 three-pointers as a forward/guard. He’s grown 5 inches in the past year.

--Stan Olson

Richmond lands Myers Park TE Hunter Westfall

Myers Park tight end Hunter Westfall has committed to Richmond, his father Lake Westfall said in an email today.

Hunter Westfall is 6-foot-7 and 225 pounds, and a primary receiving target of the Mustangs—he already has 21 catches for 210 yards and two TDs this season.
Despite his size, he has been clocked at 4.65 seconds in the 40-yard dash, and has a 32-inch vertical leap.

“He decided he wanted to go to UR for their top-ranked undergrad business school, and the chance to play for national championships every year,” his dad wrote. “They are going to use him strictly as a tight end in their pro set offense. They will use him primarily as a pass-catching TE as they have a couple of others in the mold of run-blockers.”

--Stan Olson

If you have recruiting information or players for our football database, email me at
solson@charlotteobserver.com

Wolfpack pulls away from Heels in in-state recruiting

The commitment of Cary defensive end Fre’Shad Hunter over the weekend virtually gives the in-state recruiting title to N.C. State, and is a direct slap in the face to North Carolina coach Butch Davis, known for his own high-powered talent gathering.

While Tar Heel fans defend their in-state struggles by saying that Davis and his staff are working on better national recruits—and thus paying less attention to players closer to home—there are two major flaws in that theory.

First, the in-state players the Wolfpack is landing are as good as any in the country, and grew up in the backyards of both schools. OT Robert Crisp (No.2 on The Observer’s Top 25 Prospects list), WR Anthony Creecy (No.6) and Hunter (No.5) are all prep all-Americans on someone’s list, the kind of talent capable of lifting a program into the top ten.

And second, North Carolina is simply not getting the national recruits Butch and his boys are going after. There was a brief, fast start with the early commitment of OL James Hurst, but that was as good as it got--there has been precious little follow-up.

The Tar Heels currently have landed one member (Charlotte Christian LB Ty Linton) on our NC 25-best list.

And it can’t get much better for North Carolina in-state, since the remaining three players in that top six we mentioned — DE Gabe King, S/WR Keenan Allen and DL Alfy Hill — are all expected to play their college football out of state.

Wolfpack coach Tom O’Brien has to be celebrating, if quietly for the moment. And next year, Davis would be advised to protect his home turf first.

--Stan Olson

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Highly touted DE Hunter picks N.C. State

N.C. State's come-from-behind, 38-31 defeat of Pittsburgh on Saturday night helped deliver one of the top prospects in North Carolina.

Cary High senior Fre'Shad Hunter said Sunday that the Wolfpack's performance in the win helped him make the decision to commit to N.C. State after the game. He said N.C. State was one of the first teams to offer him a scholarship and has been his top choice throughout his recruitment.

"It's a dream come true," he said. "I grew up watching N.C. State, seeing all the fans, watching them on TV. Now I'm going to be playing for them. It's crazy."

The Charlotte Observer rates Hunter as the fifth-best prospect in North Carolina. He is 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds and is expected to play defensive end in college. Hunter also had Florida State, LSU and Tennessee among his finalists.

Hunter gives N.C. State three commitments among rivals.com's top seven prospects in North Carolina. Two of those top seven prospects remain uncommitted.

Athens Drive offensive lineman Robert Crisp and Southern Durham wide receiver Anthony Creecy are the other highly rated in-state commitments in the Wolfpack's class.

Ken Tysiac

Hokies, Wolfpack looking at several Butler standouts

As the rain poured down Friday night following Butler’s blowout victory over Myers Park, there was talk of colleges and visits among the Bulldogs’ talented and soaked players.

Senior left offensive tackle Kendal Lamm, all 6-foot-5, 265 pounds of him, was taking an unofficial visit to N.C. State for the Pittsburgh game. Running backs Deion Walker and Jawaun Edwards, still juniors, were heading up to Virginia Tech.

And, of course, there’s junior QB Christian LeMay. Asked how many schools had offered LeMay now, Butler coach Mike Newsome grinned and said simply, “Everybody.”

After watching the game, you wish the same could be said for senior Anthony Short, another in the Bulldogs’ collection of RB talent. Short, who had three long first-half touchdowns, was more than the Mustangs could handle, maybe more than Florida State could have handled on that night.

So I ask him who has offered so far, and he says simply, “Coastal Carolina.”

Short is listed at 5-foot-10, and that could be stretching it, and the height is the problem.

Looking too closely at that one statistic, though, could be a mistake in Anthony’s case.

Butler, as do many schools, has a number of guys like Short.

Players like Nate Charest, a do-everything kind of kid who is a DB/WR but threw a TD pass against the Mustangs. He mentioned being looked at by Catawba, Gardner-Webb and Albany, and would be a fine catch for any of those schools.

Then there’s LB Alex Polofsky, all over the field Friday, bound for The Citadel to visit the following day. A Dean’s List student, he’s also being recruited to one degree or another by Harvard, Princeton and Duke.

Butler will eventually have ten or 12 of its current top two classes playing college football for free somewhere. We’ll keep you posted.

--Stan Olson

The newest version of our database for recruits closes shortly. Email me information at solson@charlotteobserver.com

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gamecocks offer Burns High punter Patrick Fish

South Carolina has joined Gardner-Webb in making an official scholarship offer to Lawndale Burns punter Patrick Fish. Fish’s dad, Woody, was the longtime football coach at Gardner-Webb.

.

Patrick, who is also being recruited by Duke, attending five school camps over the summer, including South Carolina’s. While Gamecocks coaches watched, he averaged 40 yards a punt, with a hangtime of 4.5 seconds.


Fish, who has scheduled his official visit to Columbia for Oct. 3, is 6-feet and 175 pounds. He expects to redshirt as a true freshman.


--Stan Olson

Thursday, September 24, 2009

No.1 prospect Gabe King's move to Oregon is finalized

Defensive end Gabe King is enrolled at South Eugene (Ore.) High, attending classes, and practicing with the football team, South Eugene athletic director Dave Hancock said moments ago.

“His mother is moving out here, and Gabe will play in his first game a week from Friday,” Hancock said. “He needs nine practices with the team before he is eligible for a game.”

King, who was at Greensboro Page last year, was banned from playing at a North Carolina public school by the N.C. High School Athletic Association because the latter determined that he had signed a false residency paper last year.

His current college finalists are Oregon, which happens to be located in Eugene; California and Alabama.

With King no longer a state resident, OT Robert Crisp of Athens Drive High becomes the No.1 in-state prospect on our list.

--Stan Olson

Skilled center picks Deacs

Carson Desrosiers, who was one of the top remaining uncommitted senior centers in the nation, has committed to Wake Forest for basketball.

Desrosiers is 6-foot-11 and averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds for Central Catholic High in Lawrence, Mass., last season. Marquette and Arizona State were his other finalists.

Central Catholic coach Rick Nault said the academic prestige of Wake Forest and Desrosiers' relationship with Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio and assistant Jeff Battle were factors in the decision.

Nault said Desrosiers is a highly skilled big man who shot 42 percent from 3-point range last season.

"He can handle the ball," Nault said. "He can shoot the three and is a great passer. He's a very skilled big kid who needs to get stronger and develop a little more of a post game, but he'll be a good fit in the ACC."

Desrosiers joins forward Melvin Tabb, guard J.T. Terrell, forward Travis McKie and guard Tony Chennault on Wake Forest's list of committed players for the Class of 2010.

Ken Tysiac

LB Parker still leaning toward Clemson over Gamecocks

Beaufort (S.C.) LB Justin Parker continues to favor Clemson over South Carolina, but he’s still a long way from a decision, with three official visits yet to arrange.

Parker, who is 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds and ranked 12th on our SC Top 25 Prospects list, is tentatively planning to take in the Tigers’ game with TCU Saturday.

Both schools have offered scholarships, along with East Carolina, Georgia Tech, Maryland, N.C. State, Wake Forest and many others. Parker thinks Oregon (those guys are all over the Carolinas these days), Rutgers and West Virginia will soon offer as well.

So far, he has set up official visits with the Tigers and Gamecocks, but has not narrowed down the two dozen or so schools that remain.

--Stan Olson

Martin visits Hokies, will be hosted by Yellow Jackets this weekend.

Roanoke Rapids High DE Kareem Martin is visiting his final five schools—he recently narrowed his choices to Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.

“I took him to Virginia Tech last weekend on an unofficial visit for the game (the Hokies’ 16-15 win over Nebraska) and he had a great time,” said Roanoke Rapids coach Russell Weinstein this morning. “He and his dad are going on an official visit to Georgia Tech this weekend for the North Carolina game.”

So who’s leading in the chase for the 6-foot-6, 240-pound Martin, the No.16 player on our NC Top 25 Prospects list?

“I wish I knew,” Weinstein said with a laugh. “He plays his cards close to the vest. I asked his dad last week and even he didn’t know.”

What we do know is that Martin hasn’t made anything less than a “A” in a course since the ninth grade, according to his coach.

“And he takes all honors and advanced placement courses,” Weinstein said.

“He’s just a great player. He has 4.65-second speed in the 40-yard dash and great athletic ability.”

Martin is averaging more than 12 tackles through five games, with three caused fumbles and two blocked punts.

--Stan Olson

Top recruit Gabe King settling in--sort of--in Oregon

Defensive end Gabe King, the top prospect on our list of the 25 best college football prospects in North Carolina, is officially enrolled at South Eugene High in Oregon—for now, at least.

“He’s enrolled,” South Eugene athletic director Dave Hancock said Wednesday night. “He is in school. That’s kind of where we’re at right now.”

Oregon, though, has a residency requirement; King’s family must actually live in South Eugene’s school district. And neither parent had reached Eugene as of last Wednesday night.

“I understand his mother is on the way,” Hancock said.

King, who was at Greensboro Page last year, was banned from playing at a North Carolina public school by the N.C. High School Athletic Association because the latter determined he had signed a false residency paper last year.

--Stan Olson

As always, if you have recruiting info, pop it to me at
solson@charlotteobserver.com

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Recruiting Database: Get your players on our list now

We’ll be updating our college football recruiting database in the next week, so please send me kids at Carolinas schools who deserve to be included if they aren’t on our list yet.

Include your player’s height, weight, 40 speed, stats, other sports, offers, visits (official and unofficial) and a cell number if possible.

If none of your team’s players is in the database, email me a contact number for your coach, or have your coach get in touch with me at solson@charlotteobserver.com.

Just heard from another coach an hour ago and added another six kids to the list.

No one is being left out intentionally; this is simply a huge undertaking.

--Stan Olson

Wolfpack latest to show interest in First Assembly's Stegall

Concord First Assembly QB/S Brandon Stegall has been contacted by N.C. State and invited to attend the Wolfpack’s game with Pittsburgh Saturday.

Stegall had already been talking with North Carolina, and took a visit to Liberty last weekend.

Also, First Assembly head coach Mike Minter informed the Stegall family that Nebraska—Minter’s alma mater—has requested additional game film and information on the player, according to Randy Stegall, Brandon’s dad.

--Stan Olson

South Carolina (the state) is filling up the NFL--proportionally

People have always said that South Carolina is a football state and North Carolina is a basketball state; now, thanks to Sporting News Today, we have some stats to back that theory up.

Currently, there are 51 former South Carolina prep players in the NFL; that figure is tied for eighth—with Virginia—among all 50 states. North Carolina, on the other hand, is 12th with 46 players.

Maybe that seems like a slight disparity, but then consider that S.C. is one of the nation’s smaller states, with a population of 4 million-plus. N.C.’s population of well over 9 million is more than twice that of the Sandlapper state.

And yet South Carolina has five more players than North Carolina playing in the league.

S.C. is No.3 in the union in NFLers per capita (one for every 78,667 people).
So it really is true, but what the heck; all you frustrated N.C. residents just need to keep in mind that North Carolina or Duke win the NCAA Basketball Championship every other year or so.

So which states have the most NFL players?

You could probably guess; No.1 is California, with 205. Right behind are Texas (179) and Florida (176). We had always heard that those were the Big Three in producing Division I college players; well, it obviously carries over into the pros.

--Stan Olson

Got recruiting news? email me at
solson@charlotteobserver.com

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wolfpack offers Ardrey Kell TE Drew Owens

Ardrey Kell junior tight end Drew Owens has received another offer, this one from N.C. State.

"N.C. State came in and offered last week," said Ardrey Kell coach Marty Woolbright a few minutes ago. "He also has offers from North Carolina, East Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee."

Owens is already 6-foot-5 1/2, Woolbright said, and will be a good collegiate TE.

"He's playing well despite the fact that we're 1-3," Woolbright said. "He's catching the ball well, blocking, just doing a good job."

Owens has nine receptions, including two touchdowns, through four games.

Stan Olson

Two of Gabe King's football-playing buddies are Oregon commitments

While we wait for the final resolution of DE Gabe King’s apparent move from North Carolina to South Eugene High in Oregon, another key reason for his decision has become apparent.

Two of the friends he had hoped to play with at Northern Guilford High have committed to Oregon. The N.C. High School Athletic Association has banned King from playing his senior year at any public school in the state--he had hoped to play at Northern Guilford.

Oregon just happens to be (A) in Eugene and (B) one of King’s three finalists, along with California and Alabama.

King's buddies are linebacker/DE Chris McCain and defensive back James Scales, both of whom are recent commitments to Oregon.

His friends’ being there could make King’s adjustment to college a bit easier, especially now that it appears he’s decided to head all the way across the country to play.

As for King’s status, South Eugene athletic director Dave Hancock said late last night that King was enrolled in school, and officials were in the process of determining whether his parents would be living in the area, which is necessary for him to remain enrolled.

--Stan Olson If you have any recruiting news, drop me a line at solson@charlotteobserver.com

Monday, September 21, 2009

Top recruit Gabe King apparently transfers to South Eugene (Ore.) High

Defensive end Gabe King, No.1 on our NC Top 25 Prospects list, has moved to Oregon for his senior season, although it isn’t quite a done deal yet.

“He is in school here,” said South Eugene athletic director Dave Hancock moments ago. “But in order for him to be eligible, his parents have to move out here as well. We’ll know more about that later today.”

Still, one would assume that if King is already enrolled, that his parents—knowing the rules—will follow. Meaning that he will not be No.1—or even No. 25, when our pre-signing day list comes out a few months from now. Ought to be pretty high up on the state of Oregon’s list, though.

King had hoped to play at Northern Guilford High in the Greensboro area, but was ruled ineligible by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association due to a controversy regarding his home address while enrolled at Greensboro Page last spring. That meant that the only way he could play in the state was at one of the many private schools.

Apparently, he chose to go out of state—‘way out of state—instead.

Uh, think this might work out pretty well for the University of Oregon, which just happens to be located in Eugene as well?

King has already announced that his top three college choices are Oregon, California and Alabama.

If I’m the Golden Bears or Crimson Tide, I’m thinking about looking elsewhere for a world class DE.

As for our rankings, No.2 Robert Crisp, the massive OT who has committed to
N.C. State, takes over the top spot by default.
--Stan Olson

Gamecocks moving up on Tar Heels in chase for Brantley

Remember how Durham Mt. Zion wide receiver Tehvyn Brantley seemed totally locked up by North Carolina after it offered the 5-foot-8 speedster a scholarship?

Not so fast, boys in blue.

South Carolina is moving up the charts,” Brantley said late last night. “UNC is still No.1 with me, I want to make that clear. But I really like the Gamecocks’ coaches. Coach (Steve) Spurrier Jr. is doing the main recruiting with me, and he’s more laid back than his dad (head coach Steve Spurrier). He’s really cool with the kids.

Brantley is still doing his best to open eyes. In his team’s first five games, he’s scored six TDs.

And last Friday, he was in Charlotte for a game with the Q Foundation, another private school. Although Mt. Zion was beaten 35-14 and we were unable to find official stats, Brantley was quick with the numbers.

“I caught seven or eight passes and scored two touchdowns,” he said. “And I gained 256 yards receiving.”

I’m telling you, Steve Smith Jr. is coming.

--Stan Olson

Got recruiting news? Pop it to me at solson@charlotteobserver.com

Tar Heels land commitment of speedy slot receiver

Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway High’s Brendon Felder took his official visit to North Carolina over the weekend, and before he finished Sunday, he gave UNC his commitment.

Felder, a 5-foot-10, 160-pound wide receiver with 4.37-second speed in the 40-yard dash, also had offers from Boston College, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

“To tell you the truth, it was a toss up – I really didn’t know (when I arrived),” Felder told Inside Carolina’s Don Callahan. “There was a big part of me that liked the school, but I wanted to see different aspects (on the visit).”


Felder arrived Friday and attended the Tar Heels’ 31-17 victory over
East Carolina Saturday.

“It was great, to tell you the truth,” Felder said of the game. “I watched the (team's pregame Old Well Walk) and I had fans screaming my name. When I was on the field, I had fans screaming my name. The atmosphere is great – it’s just like a family atmosphere; it’s like a whole big family from alumni to fans to coaches.”

Felder finished up with a Sunday meeting with head coach Butch Davis, when he committed.

“My word is my word,” Felder said. “That’s the strongest thing you can have is your word.”

--Stan Olson

Friday, September 18, 2009

Junior athlete favors Tar Heels, Hokies and Tigers

North Carolina has joined the early rush for Tabor City South Columbus High RB Brian Riggins, extending the junior an official offer.

“I was so happy because I’ve always been a fan of
North Carolina,” Riggins told Scout.com.

Riggins also has offers from Virginia Tech and
East Carolina, while Clemson, Duke, N.C. State, Florida State, Georgia and Boston College are recruiting him as well.

He said his favorites are the Hokies, Tar Heels and Tigers, with Virginia Tech holding a slight lead.


Don’t sell
North Carolina short on this one, though. The 6-1, 185-pound Riggins, who could play running back, wide receiver or safety in college, grew up a Tar Heels fan. He has a cousin, Greg Elleby, on the team and has visited the school several times.

He and his mother went to the Tar Heels’ opener with The Citadel, and Riggins plans to attend Saturday’s game with
East Carolina.

--Stan Olson

Notre Dame battling Tar Heels, Wolfpack, Deacons for top DB

Heavily recruited Greensboro Dudley safety David Amerson is visiting Notre Dame Saturday, according to Dudley coach Steve Davis.

“He’s looking forward to seeing what’s up there, and then I believe he’s visiting UNC the following weekend,” Davis said. “He’s going to N.C. State at some point, and I believe Wake Forest is also in the mix.

“I think those are his favorites.”

Amerson is one of the top players on our NC Top 25 Prospects list who has not yet committed, ranked at No.13.

He has good 6-foot-1, 180-pound size with 4.5 speed. And he has what coaches call “a nose for the ball.” Last season, he had nine interceptions and says his goal is ten this year.

--Stan Olson

Got recruiting news? Email me at solson@charlotteobserver.com.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Suddenly Deacons, Wolfpack, Heels, Pirates and Dawgs are noticing Spain

Sometimes you just have to take one for the team.

So it was with Greensboro Page’s John Spain. Two years ago he was a sophomore, just made for playing linebacker, all size and speed and instincts.

“But we just didn’t have enough talent on our O-line, so he just had to play there,” said Page coach Kevin Gillespie this afternoon. “He started 12 games at tackle for us.”

Finally, as a junior, Spain was moved to LB. There, he led the team in tackles with 138 and was an all-conference selection.

Schools finally started noticing him, but because of that unobserved sophomore year, he was far down many recruiting boards.

Air Force and Liberty offered quickly.

And now Spain is an impressive 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, combined with 4.5-second speed in the 40, according to Gillespie.

“Now the bigger schools, Duke, Wake, North Carolina, ECU, Georgia, are wanting film on him," Gillespie said.

Spain
, who is athletic enough to start at forward for the basketball team, is “smart, hard working and has a great attitude,” according to Gillespie.

That was obvious two years ago, when he took one for the team.

--Stan Olson

Clemson, Gamecocks have best area recruiting classes as Tar Heels slide down rankings

Time for our every-so-often checkup on the rankings of the 2010 recruiting classes of our seven major programs, according to our friends at Scout.com.

And, to put it mildly, Clemson and South Carolina are kicking the North Carolina schools’ rear ends.

Clemson has taken the lead, ranked No.20 nationally on Scout’s list. The Gamecocks are 26th overall, and then comes the biggest surprise. Wake Forest has moved ahead of its in-state rivals at No.34. The Deacons’ football reputation has been improving by the year, and that extends to recruiting.

N.C.
State
is a respectable 39th, with surprising Duke right behind at No.45.

And where is North Carolina? The Tar Heels are 59th, just behind Northwestern.

East Carolina
is the last of our seven, coming in at No.88.

What does all this tell us?

Our ACC schools are sort of flipped upside down. But the bottom line is that overall, the SEC (ouch!) is walloping the ACC in recruiting. Just consider that four of the top six schools in the rankings are SEC members.

That must be why my cohorts started that goofy SEC blog (just kidding fellas!)

--Stan Olson

We're hunting for prep football-playing GIANTS

So who’s the biggest of them all?

I’m not talking about the best big recruit in the Carolinas, although that would be either Athens Drive’s Robert Crisp or Wilmington Hoggard’s T.J. Leifheit, both of whom top 6-foot-7 and 300 pounds.

I just got to wondering if any Carolinas prospects are even bigger than those two, say, 6-9 and 340 pounds or even 350. Or maybe there’s a kid who might not be as tall as the aforementioned players but bruises the scales at 375. Let me hear about him.

I’ll see if I can come up with a top ten of Carolina giants.

Heck, I’ve got a feeling that Crisp and Leifheit might not even make it.

--Stan Olson

By the way, check out our recruiting database. Make sure your school's players are in there. If not, send me a contact number for the coach at solson@charlotteobserver.com

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lattimore's list growing--add Seminoles and maybe Georgia's Dawgs to his previous five finalists

No wonder Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes running back Marcus Lattimore is waiting until February’s national signing day to make his college decision. Everywhere is great, and it’s hard to say no. I have the same problem with that second ├ęclair.


Lattimore, who is likely the best prep RB in the country, narrowed his choices to five—South Carolina, North Carolina, Auburn, Oregon and Penn State—about a month ago.


But now he’s told Warchant.com, a Florida State website, that the Seminoles are back on his list again.


The 6-foot, 210-pound Lattimore said he had been worried about the NCAA’s investigation of the school, but had been assured that there would be no problems. Accordingly, he will officially visit Tallahassee Oct. 10.


Lattimore was also at Georgia for the South Carolina game Saturday, and said now, after feeling the Sanford Stadium atmosphere in the Bulldogs’ 41-37 victory, Georgia is back in the picture.


He also said he has changed his October 31st official visit from Oregon to Auburn—that doesn’t bode well for the Ducks. He’s planning a Nov. 7 trip to Penn State, and has yet to arrange his final visits.


By signing day, the Lattimore List may be back up to 25.


--Stan Olson

Vols may have replaced LSU in Leifheit's final three, joining Tar Heels and Southern Cal

About a month ago, Wilmington Hoggard OT T.J. Leifheit winnowed his list of university favorites to three—North Carolina, Southern Cal and LSU.

“I think that list might have been a little premature,” Hoggard coach Scott Braswell said a few minutes ago.

Recently, Leifheit visited Tennessee.

“He had a great time there; he really liked it,” Braswell said. “I think Tennessee has kind of replaced LSU on his list. And it’s a lot closer than Baton Rouge.”

Braswell said Leifheit will make a visit to Southern Cal in early October, then likely make his decision later in the month.

Leifheit, who is 6-foot-7 and 300 pounds, is the No.7 prospect on our NC Top 25 list.

--Stan Olson

Tar Heels send QB Taylor his first written offer

With schools allowed to offer juniors written scholarship bids as of Sept. 1, a lot of those verbal offers are being transferred to paper.

North Carolina is the first to do so with QB Brian Taylor of Harnett Central in Angier, according to his coach, Marc Morris. Taylor is one of The Observer’s Top Ten juniors in the state.

“You know how coaches are always saying their guy is a ‘coach on the field?’ Morris said. “Well, Brian really is. He is so good at running our spread offense that we allow him to check down on plays himself, calling in relation to what the defense is doing.

“In fact, we let him do that as a sophomore.”

Taylor played in only six games last year because of injury, but it’s obvious he will be a good one.

“He’s already 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds,” Morris said. “And this will give you an idea how strong his arm is. He’s a pitcher and right fielder on the baseball team, and he throws it 90 mph.”

--Stan Olson

Check out our Recruiting Database, which covers the Carolinas. If a kid is missing, pop me an email with stats, his size and any offers or visits at
solson@charlotteobserver.com

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How's this for your backup tailback? 401 rushing yards

That is what Angier Harnett Central got from senior Brian Baker in Friday’s 62-33 battering of Overhills.

According to Harnett Central coach Marc Morris, Baker is primarily the slot receiver in the team’s spread offense. He’s also the No.2 tailback, but he was promoted to No.1 when starting TB Jarrod Spears suffered an ankle injury two games into the season.

Now, Baker is no big-time recruit. He’s 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds, and because of that, he’ll likely end up at an NCAA Division II or III college. But on Friday, he looked like Barry Sanders.

Baker finished with six touchdowns, and only needed 30 carries to pile up those 401 yards.

“We knew he had a bunch of yards,” Morris said. “We didn’t know how many.”

Morris added that several of Baker’s TD bursts were the break free and run forever kind, but he didn’t have specific lengths on them.

I asked Morris if that was a school record..

“Nah, Mike Hill had 485 in 2001, I think,” Morris said.

Whatever. For one night at least, Harnett Central’s backup TB had a lot of fun playing No.1.

--Stan Olson

Athletic, versatile Blakeney picks Duke

Issac Blakeney, who has exhibited both athletic ability and versatility at Monroe High, has committed to Duke.

Blakeney is 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds and won the state Class 2A triple jump championship in the spring by more than two feet with a wind-aided jump of 48 feet, 4 1/2 inches. He plays defensive back, outside linebacker and wide receiver for Monroe and also serves as the team's punter.

Monroe coach Johnny Sowell said Duke recruited him as an athlete, which means his college position has not yet been determined.

"They may consider him as an outside (linebacker)," Sowell said. "He's got the frame where he can get bigger."

East Carolina was the other Football Bowl Subdivision school that had offered Blakeney a scholarship, Sowell said. The lure of playing in the ACC - along with Duke's academic reputation - led to Blakeney's commitment, according to Sowell.

"He's a great athlete and a great student," Sowell said.

Ken Tysiac

Written offers pour in for Butler QB LeMay


You’ve got to give Christian LeMay’s dad, Stacey, credit for style; when the written offers for his son began pouring in, he announced that fact by lining up the envelopes and taking a picture of the batch.

With LeMay, a junior, on target toward becoming one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation next year, the picture was predictably impressive.

Fanned out on a table were thick envelopes, with the schools that sent them easy to read.

Starting with the first, they included Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Tennessee, East Carolina and Maryland.

LeMay
, though, is just getting started. He had 12 verbal offers before teams could start putting them in writing for juniors Sept. 1. Expect him to have three dozen by this time next year.

Click here to see a video profile of LeMay

--Stan Olson

He threw 4 varsity TD passes Friday--and he's 14 years old

Being a freshman, Vance High’s Jalen Latter started this season on the junior varsity, where he won the quarterbacking job. That’s where Cougars varsity coach Pete Culicerto got a look at him.

The first game, Culicerto was impressed with Latter. In the first quarter of the second game, he was more than that.

After a particularly tough completion, Culicerto turned to the coaches standing next to him and said, “There’s our quarterback. This is the last jayvee game he’ll ever play.”

Last Friday, young Latter found himself in the varsity starting lineup for the team’s game with Sun Valley.

“He threw for 269 yards and four touchdowns,” Culicerto said. “He has a presence back there; what a leader he is on the field.”

Latter is 5-foot-10--not tall for a quarterback, but remember, last year he was in middle school and has plenty of time to grow. He weighs 175 pounds. And he's so new to the program that they haven't even timed him in a 40 yet.

It gets a whole lot tougher this week, though—the Cougars play at Independence.

--Stan Olson

As always, if you have some interesting recruiting info, email me at solson@charlotteobserver.com

Monday, September 14, 2009

Everybody--and we mean that--wants Dorman's Peake

'How good is Spartanburg Dorman High junior Charone Peake?


“Everybody has offered him (a scholarship), and I mean everybody,” Dorman coach Dave Gutshall said a few minutes ago. “All the SEC teams, all the ACC teams. I can’t think of a school that hasn’t offered him.”


Peake, who made our list of South Carolina’s Top Ten juniors last month, is what coaches like to call “a beast.”


Gutshall moves Peake, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound wide receiver, all over the field in order to get the ball in his hands.

In Friday night’s 35-14 whipping of Greenwood, Peake caught five passes for 70 yards and a touchdown, and rushed ten times for 88 yards and another score.


A couple of other notes. Consider that despite his height, he has 4.4-second speed in the 40. And that as a freshman moved up to the varsity, he took the first four passes he caught for touchdowns.


--Stan Olson

Just a quick note on our new recruiting database

I’ve been inundated over the past few days with parents wondering why their kids aren’t in our recruiting database, even though they’ve sent the information.

It works like this, folks—I add in the information immediately, but our techs only have time to update the list every few weeks or so.

Don’t worry; if your kid deserves a spot in the database, he’ll be in there. And you can help by telling your coach (or one of his assistants) to give me a call at 704-366-5813 with information on his team’s prospects. That way, we get everyone from a given school added to our file at once.

If you would like to check out the database, click here.


--Stan Olson

Ducks get quacking, land N.C. prospect Scales

Oregon, which just landed Northern Guilford’s Chris McCain a couple of days ago, has now picked up the commitment of McCain’s former teammate, 5-10, 185-pound safety James Scales.

Scales, who had 80 tackles, four interceptions and two caused fumbles as a Northern Guilford junior, is attending prep school at the Greensboro Sports Academy for his senior year.

He said his finalists were Kentucky, Louisville and Oregon.

Asked about the in-state schools this morning, Scales said, “Everybody said I was undersized for safety. Oregon believes I can play there.

“I love my position coach, coach (John) Neal,” Scales said. “He’s put three guys in the NFL.”

Oregon
will use Scales, who has 4.6-second speed, has something of a rover in the secondary, he said.


--Stan Olson

Volunteers grab two of South Carolina's top six players

Tennessee made one of the recruiting coups of the year when two Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes standouts, defensive linemen Brandon Willis and Corey Miller, committed to the Volunteers over the weekend.

The two are close friends.

Both are among the top six players on our SC Top 25 Prospects list.
Willis is No.2, and was also considering Florida State, North Carolina, California and UCLA.

He is 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, and could bulk up further to play defensive tackle in college. As a junior, he had 144 tackles, including 13 sacks.

Miller, ranked sixth on our list, had been a long-time commitment to Florida State, and his loss is a stinging blow to the Seminoles. The DE is 6-4 and 230 pounds, with 4.69 speed in the 40. He had 105 tackles, with eight sacks and 34 QB hurries as a junior.

The pair are key reasons that Byrnes is favored to win yet another state title.

--Stan Olson

Got any recruiting news? Email me at
solson@charlotteobserver.com

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tar Heels, Wolfpack, Deacons, Pirates losing state

After a bad week for the North Carolina universities on the recruiting front, it appears the home state has been lost.

A total of 15 members of The Observer’s NC Top 25 Prospects list have made their commitments so far, and our five major in-state universities can claim only six of them. And North Carolina, normally dominant on its home turf, has just one of those. N.C. State has two, Duke has two--a good effort for the Blue Devils--and Wake Forest, one.

The loss of No.11 Chris McCain to Oregon only makes it worse, coming on the heels of No.4 Alfy Hill’s decision to pick Alabama over the Tar Heels.

And things don’t appear to be getting much better with the uncommitted ten. No.1 Gabe King and No.3 Keenan Allen, both remarkable athletes, have made it clear that they prefer out-of-state schools.

In comparison, Clemson and South Carolina are dominating their state, keeping the best players home. The Tigers have seven members of our SC Top 25, and the Gamecocks have collected four, with both in the running for more.

-- Stan Olson