Friday, October 30, 2009

Appalachian State grabs OL from ACC schools

The Mountaineers have picked up the commitment of offensive tackle Kalan Jones of Habersham Central High in Mt. Airy, Ga. And in doing so, the Apps may have bested three ACC schools.

Jones told that Georgia Tech, Clemson and Wake Forest had all been recruiting him seriously, although none had offered yet.

“I actually had a couple visits for games scheduled with (Georgia Tech),” he said. “After I committed I thought about it and decided I wouldn't do that and go to those games. That just wouldn't be the right thing to do.

Wake Forest was recruiting me heavily, and Clemson was as well.”

Jones is 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds. He committed after a recent recruiting trip to Boone and a successful sitdown with head coach Jerry Moore, saying that he simply fell in love with the place.

“I got a call from coach (John) Holt on the Monday after my visit, and he told me they were offering," Jones said. “I said 'yes, I want to come to Appalachian State' right on the spot. His reaction was like, 'seriously?' He was shocked. He didn't expect me to accept right then.”

Nice catch for the Mountaineers, and the second quality lineman to commit. ASU also has landed 6-2, 275-pound Graham Fisher of Waynesville Tuscola. Sounds like the program isn’t returning to earth anytime soon.

--Stan Olson

ECU Pirates on the trail of Charlotte punter Tart

Punters are not always a high priority on universities’ football recruiting lists, but Mallard Creek High’s Michael Tart appears to be an exception to the rule as far as East Carolina is concerned.

The Pirates, according to Tart, have him No.1 on their board for the position, and are staying in regular touch.

“They invited me to their first game of the season against Appalachian State and I took an unofficial visit down there,” he said in a recent email. “…They have been calling me once a week for about a month and a half, and have now seen my mid-season highlight tape. They liked it enough to come see me play in person against North Mecklenburg.”

Tart, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound senior, has been acknowledged as one of the state’s leading punters since his junior year. He has a career net punting average of over 40 yards a kick, meaning his efforts are rarely returned.

--Stan Olson

Got recruiting news? Pop it to me at

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Digging into recruiting nuts and bolts—and what’s up with Byrnes RB Marcus Lattimore

Heavily recruited Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes RB Marcus Lattimore will make his first official visit this weekend, heading to Auburn. The following weekend, he will be at Penn State. He’s also planning a trip to Oregon in January. His final two visits have South Carolina and UNC as strong possibilities, while Florida State and Georgia also have a shot.

*Lake Norman DL Chandler Caldwell, who is 6-foot-1 and 292 pounds, has received an offer from Catawba, as has teammate Kane Sherrill, an OT who was also recently offered by Western Carolina.

*Sherrill and Lake Norman OT Avery Ekren (6-6, 300) visited Elon last weekend.

*Concord First Assembly QB/RB/WR Brandon Stegall visited Gardner-Webb last weekend. And he has been voted all-conference at FS for the third straight season.

*East Mecklenburg S Ronnie Bishop (6-3, 190) has visited Wofford and N.C. A&T this month, and will soon visit Johnson C. Smith.

*Fayetteville Westover RB Christian Russell, already offered by UNC, rushed for 384 yards last Friday.

Blue Devils' newest recruit is a snap (sorry)

Make no mistake, Nick Sink is capable of playing at Duke and in the ACC, according to his coach, Forsyth Country Day’s Mark Moroz. But his ticket beyond college could depend on a very specialized skill.

While he doesn’t play center, Sink, a fine athlete who is all-state in hoops, has developed into a remarkable long snapper. That’s the guy who hikes the ball on punts, extra points and field goals.

“His long snapping ability is one of the best I’ve ever seen,” said Moroz, who has seen a lot of snaps in his days as a Wake Forest standout, a brief NFL appearance with Tampa Bay and several seasons in the CFL.

“In the NFL, the average long snapper gets the ball where it’s going in 0.72 seconds,” Moroz said. “Nick gets it there in 0.74. That could be his ticket into the league.”

Lots of players who couldn’t get on an NFL field any other way turn long snapping into a good career—think of former Panthers’ long snapper Jason Kyle.

--Stan Olson

Duke Blue Devils add Forsyth Country Day TE

Forsyth Country Day tight end Nick Sink has accepted a scholarship to Duke, his coach said a few minutes ago.

Sink, who is 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, was also being heavily recruited by North Carolina and Kentucky, although neither had offered yet.

“Duke’s been recruiting him from Day One,” said Country Day coach Mark Moroz. “This was pretty much a dream come true for him. His grades are fantastic. And he certainly has the ability to play in the ACC.”

Moroz said the Blue Devils offered two nights ago, and that Sink accepted Wednesday night. Duke plans to start him out at tight end.

In nine games so far this year, Sink has 26 catches for 426 yards and four touchdowns. He also plays DE, where he has 43 tackles, including three sacks and 13 tackles for loss. He’s caused two fumbles, and is also the team’s long snapper.

How athletic is the big guy? He also starts for the varsity at power forward, and holds the school record for three-pointers. And he puts the shot for the track team.

--Stan Olson

Recruiting news? Send it to me at

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gamecocks add yet another offensive lineman

This time it’s tackle Du’Von Milsap of Buford (Ga.) High, who committed to South Carolina Tuesday night. Milsap is the Gamecocks’ eighth O-line recruit in the Class of 2010, as the team continues to work to upgrade its offense.

He chose South Carolina over other finalists Oklahoma State and Mississippi.

“It's closer to home and it just felt like a better fit," Milsap said. “I've been contemplating it for a while.”

Milsap, who is 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, also had offers from Clemson, East Carolina, Louisville and Mississippi State. He is the Gamecocks’ 19th commitment.

--Stan Olson

Football Recruiting Database updated once more

We’ve updated our recruiting database for the third time this season, and you can find it here. We now have more than 750 players in the two Carolinas represented.

As we’ve mentioned, if your school or a key player is not represented on our list, feel free to email me at Or have your coach get in touch with me (send me his cell number and I’ll be happy to do it).

Also, don’t forget about juniors you would like to recommend for our first Top 25 lists of junior prospects in North and South Carolina.

--Stan Olson

Is Wolfpack commitment Hunter solid after being suspended for the rest of the prep season?

Cary Defensive end Fre’Shad Hunter, suspended two weeks ago for the remainder of his senior season by coach Ben Kolstad for a violation of team rules, has not had his scholarship offer pulled by N.C. State—at least for now.

“I talked to (Wolfpack assistant coach Mike) Archer last week, and he didn’t say anything about that happening,” Kolstad said a few minutes ago. “But there’s a possibility Fre’Shad could end up in junior college or something like that.

“As far I know, Fre’Shad is still committed to them. But I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

What Kolstad does know is that Hunter is finished for the season at Cary, his high school career over. Which means the infraction must have been a serious one. And Hunter is no run-of-the-mill talent; he is ranked No.4 on The Observer’s Top 25 NC Prospects list.

--Stan Olson

Are ECU Pirates preparing to grab Byrnes WR?

Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes wide receiver Torian Richardson visited East Carolina Saturday, according to Byrnes coach Chris Miller, who also confirmed that the Pirates offered Richardson a scholarship earlier this month.

was fired up about the trip, and has moved the Pirates up his list.

"They’re building their program up," he said. “I talked to coach (Skip) Holtz. He said he really needed me to come there and make plays for them. I was pretty excited about it.” Richardson currently has an eclectic list of favorites—ECU, Mississippi State and Michigan State. He’ll take his official visit to the Spartans on Nov. 20, and is thinking about an unofficial trip to Tennessee this weekend—the Vols play South Carolina.

has been a big part of Byrnes’ offense, with 594 receiving yards and nine TDs on 30 catches, an average of almost 20 yards a reception.

--Stan Olson

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Clemson, Duke, Cavs showing interest in Latin WR

With Charlotte Latin wide receiver Davis Austin having a remarkable senior season, several ACC schools have started getting involved. Austin was hosted by Virginia last weekend and Clemson the week before on unofficial visits, and is set to attend Duke’s next home game.

This has been something of a change; until recently, most of Austin’s attention was coming from several Ivy League schools, William & Mary, The Citadel and Furman.

But Austin has the size (6-foot-5, 195 pounds) and decent speed (4.65 seconds in the 40-yard dash) to go with it, and now his production is making some of the bigger schools think twice.

has set an N.C. prep record with TD catches in nine straight games. He has 35 receptions overall, good for 772 yards and 13 scores

“We were surprised that that was the record, especially with all the great receivers schools like Independence have had,” said Latin coach Larry McNulty this afternoon just before a rain-drenched practice. “But Davis has had a fine season. He has good hands, and he really runs well after the catch.”

ACC schools could offer Austin the chance to be a “preferred walk-on,” with the possibility of earning a scholarship later. But he has excellent grades, and could decide to get a good education at one of those smaller schools.

--Stan Olson

Remember, if you know of top juniors for our upcoming list, email me at

Cavaliers, Wildcats request film on Sumter QB

This has not been a good year for senior quarterbacks in the Carolinas, but one of the best of the current crop is starting to draw more attention. Both Virginia and Kentucky have recently requested film on Sumter’s Stephen Curtis, according to offensive coordinator Grayson Howell.

Curtis, the second-best true QB prospect in South Carolina after Duncan Byrnes’ Chas Dodd (committed to Rutgers), has good size at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds. And he’s having another strong season, with 1,660 yards passing, a total that includes 23 TDs. He has rushed for eight more scores.

Howell also said that over the past few weeks, Curtis had been an “invited guest” at The Citadel, Liberty and Elon.

As the available QB prospects commit, things appear to be heating up for Curtis.

--Stan Olson

Know of recruiting offers, commitments or visits? Drop me a line at

Polishing off those Butler-Providence leftovers

A bit more from my Friday trip to Providence:

*Butler junior CB Mark Bridges (above, No. 15) is starting to receive considerable attention: “I’ve been hearing from Oregon, Florida — the Gators — Florida State, Wisconsin and Georgia,” he said after the game. He has already been offered by Central Michigan.

“And he’s going to continue getting those offers,” said coach Mike Newsome.

*Providence has an up-and-comer at LB in 5-foot-9, 185-pound sophomore Justin Askew. As a freshman, he played DE for the jayvees, and has faced a steep learning curve this season, but coach Randy Long said, “We feel like he’s got a lot of upside to him.”

*DE B.J. Woodley, a senior key to the Bulldogs’ defense, has received an offer from Western Carolina.

*And speedy Providence DB/WR Keon Williams has received an offer from Liberty.

*Everything they say about do-everything Panther Damon Magazu is true. The senior, who has committed to East Carolina, seemed to be everywhere on the field, all game long.

--Stan Olson

Monday, October 26, 2009

Does the next Marcus Lattimore attend his school? Say hello to Duncan Byrnes' Shakeem Wharton

Right now, Shakeem Wharton is Marcus Lattimore’s backup in South Carolina’s most powerful prep program, but next year, he’ll be the main ball carrier. And, according to Byrnes coach Chris Miller, he’ll be something to see.

“He’s going to be as good as Marcus,” Miller said earlier this afternoon.

As good as Marcus, meaning perhaps the best running back in the nation, which many consider Lattimore to be.

“Shakeem jumped into Marcus’ hip pocket,” Miller said, referring to how Wharton looks up to Lattimore as a mentor. “He works so hard at everything, and usually with the young guys, you have to keep on ‘em. Not him.”

Wharton is the cousin of Carolina Panthers offensive guard Travelle Wharton. He’s 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, with 4.65 speed in the 40-yard dash.

“He’s already got good field vision, and all of it’s coming for him,” said Miller.

Because Byrnes is often ahead by large margins in the second half, Wharton gets a lot of reps and could end the season with over 500 rushing yards.

“He has a chance to be a special player,” Miller said.

That, on a team loaded with special players, is saying a lot.

--Stan Olson

Tar Heels, Clemson are heating up for Frost

I scouted the Butler-at-Providence game Friday night and then caught up with some of the players, including talented Bulldogs junior WR/LB Kris Frost. More and more teams are getting in regular touch with Frost, one of the better players on a team loaded with good ones.

“North Carolina and Clemson are staying in touch with me the most,” he said, standing beside the field after his team’s exciting 35-28 victory. “They’re calling and texting a lot.”

Frost is pushing 6-foot-3 and weighs 215 pounds, and can run a 4.5-second 40-yard dash. While he has no official offers from the big boys yet, many are showing their interest.

“I’m also hearing from Maryland, Florida State, Syracuse, South Carolina, and Michigan is also calling now,” he said.

Frost is likely to make our Top N.C. Junior Prospects list we told you about in our previous blog. He had the hit of the game, leveling tough and talented Providence QB Chauncey Concepcion in the open field. It said a lot about the latter that he stayed in the game after that one.

Watch Frost closely; his combination of quickness and size is already making the bigger schools salivate.

--Stan Olson

Now we're on the hunt for top Carolinas' juniors

In keeping with our quest to bring you recruiting’s next big targets first, we are planning to publish a ranking of North and South Carolina’s top junior prospects on Thanksgiving Day.

There are the obvious choices—Rock Hill South Pointe DE Jadeveon Clowney and Butler QB Christian LeMay to name a pair—but we want the not-so-obvious ones, the undiscovered talents of the class, as well. This is difficult to do without a little help, particularly from those of you who see such players in action every week.

Given time constrants, I can’t get out and patrol the Carolinas, from Hilton Head to Murphy, and check out everyone. So if there’s a quality junior in your area I need to hear about, send me his name and whatever information you have on him and I’ll follow up. You can reach me with those players at

PS—We haven’t forgotten the seniors. Somebody breaking loose at your school? Send me his name, too. We need him in our Football Recruiting Database.

--Stan Olson

Friday, October 23, 2009

Handicapping the rest of our Top 50 recruits

The total of uncommitted players on The Observer's Carolinas Top 50 prospects list is shrinking fast. Our North Carolina Top 25 has seven players who have yet to make their choices, as has our South Carolina Top 25.

Which means only 14 of the players we consider the best in the Carolinas have not made their decisions, with the Feb. 3 National Signing Day still so far in the distance.

The committed could change their minds, of course, but most will wind up at the program they've picked. And that means getting them to commit in the first place is hugely important.

So who are the top remaining uncommitted players in the Carolinas, and which schools have the best chances of landing them? A strong point to consider is that when a Carolinas school is a finalist for an in-state player, that program usually has an edge because of proximity.

Of course, a program like Alabama's has the tradition to roll (Tide) over all that – see Alfy Hill, who picked 'Bama over North Carolina.

Our top 10 list of still-availables follows. We also give you the primary schools in the hunt in alphabetical order, and the likely winners of their services. Keep in mind, though, that we're just making semi-educated guesses.

MARCUS LATTIMORE, Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes, RB: Possibly the best running back in the country. Considering: Auburn, North Carolina, Oregon, Penn State, South Carolina. He'll choose: South Carolina. The home state tug will be the deciding factor.

KEENAN ALLEN, Northern Guilford, S/WR: The smoothest athlete in N.C., Allen could play anywhere. Considering:Alabama, Clemson, Oregon. He'll choose: Clemson – although Alabama also has a shot. Oregon is too far away for family and friends.

JOHN FULTON, Manning (S.C.), CB: Expect him to be a shutdown corner wherever he winds up. Considering: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina, Virginia Tech. He'll choose: South Carolina – in a tight squeeze over Alabama.

ETHAN FARMER, Tabor City S. Columbus, TE/DT: A likely defensive tackle in college, with excellent quickness. Considering: Alabama, Clemson, North Carolina, N.C. State, Penn St. He'll choose: North Carolina – in a close one over Clemson.

MUSTAFA GREENE, Irmo (S.C.), RB: The Carolinas' second-best running back, sorting through his suitors. Considering: Clemson, N.C. State, South Carolina, Rutgers, Tennessee, West Virginia. He'll choose: Rutgers. Sometimes they just want to see the world.

JUSTIN PARKER, Beaufort (S.C.), MLB: A tackling machine with great sideline to sideline speed and 17 offers. Considering: Clemson, Nebraska, N.C. State, South Carolina, Wake Forest, others. He'll choose: Clemson – his leader all along. Unless the Gamecocks' late push pulls him to Columbia.

DAVID AMERSON, Greensboro Dudley, S: Smooth and polished, with a nose for the ball. Considering: Clemson, North Carolina, N.C. State, Notre Dame. He'll choose: Notre Dame – over the Wolfpack; his visit to South Bend blew him away.

KAREEM MARTIN, Roanoke Rapids, DE: Good speed and quickness for his 6-foot-6, 229-pound size. Considering: Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Virginia Tech. He'll choose: North Carolina. They are all close right now, so expect his state university to win this one.

P.J. CLYBURN, West Iredell, S/WR: A tremendous return man who will likely handle that job and play safety at the next level. Considering: Arkansas, East Carolina, Kentucky, Illinois, North Carolina, N.C. State, South Carolina. He'll choose: East Carolina. The Pirates steal a good one in-state.

NICK JONES, Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes, WR/KR: Good 4.4-second speed and shiftiness; a slot receiver or return man in college. Considering: Auburn, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina. He'll choose: Auburn. The Tigers play the same style of spread offense as Byrnes, and he will be a good fit.

-- Stan Olson

WCU is Lake Norman OT Kane Sherrill's first offer

Kane Sherrill, Lake Norman’s remarkably effective left OT, has received his first offer, from Western Carolina. Sherrill, variously listed as 6-foot-3 or 6-2 (and 275 pounds) is another classic example of a kid with good ability, technique and football instincts who likely won’t play at a BCS school because of a lack of height.

Never mind that, though; Sherrill is having another fine season. He has graded out at 90 percent efficiency with 25 knockdown blocks. The most mind-boggling stat, though, is that he has not allowed a sack in three seasons as a starting OT.

Lower division schools are interested, and in a big way. Sherrill is visiting Elon this weekend, and has already been to Western, The Citadel, Gardner-Webb and Catawba.

--Stan Olson

South Pointe DE Clowney to be No.1 next year?

You’ve heard us mention Rock Hill South Pointe DE Jadeveon Clowney before. Just a junior, he’s gobbling up scholarship offers as soon as university recruiters see him and can get them in the mail.

“He’s been offered by everybody, and I’m being dead honest,” said South Pointe coach Bobby Carroll. “That dude could very well be a first-round NFL draft choice a few years from now.”

For those who have forgotten, Clowney is 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds, with 4.6-second speed in the 40-yard dash and an impressive burst off the edge.

“He’s getting triple-teamed every game, and I’m not kidding,” Carroll said. “He’ll be lined up against a tackle and a tight end, and then another guy will help out. And he still had three sacks against Northwestern.”

Carroll said the schools that have offered Clowney include Notre Dame, Miami, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Clemson, Tennessee and LSU—those were the ones he could think of off the top of his head.

“And he’s a great kid; he absolutely doesn’t have a big head about it,” Carroll said.

From what I’ve seen and heard so far, Clowney may be the No.1 prospect in South Carolina next year.

--Stan Olson

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Irving picks Duke

Kyrie Irving put on a blue ball cap and announced that he is committing to Duke on ESPN-U on Thursday evening.

But Irving wouldn't lobby his friend, Harrison Barnes, to join him in committing to the Blue Devils.

"I'll let the Duke coaching staff handle that," Irving said on ESPN-U.

Barnes, a 6-foot-6 forward from Ames, Iowa, who's rated the top player in the Class of 2010 by, is visiting Duke this weekend. Irving, a point guard from St. Patrick High in Elizabeth, N.J., is rated No. 5 overall in the class by

Irving’s other finalists were Texas A&M and Kentucky. A 6-foot-1 player who’s known for scoring and setting up his teammates, he said he has a great relationship with the players and coaches at Duke.

“When I went on my official visit, it felt like home,” Irving said. “And it’s the place for me.”

Irving joins 6-8 Josh Hairston of Spotsylvania, Pa., and 6-2 Tyler Thornton of Washington, D.C., in Duke’s class.

If Duke also lands Barnes, it would solidify its highest-rated class since the Josh McRoberts-led Class of 2005 group that was rated the best in the nation by some analysts.

The Blue Devils have failed to land some of their top targets in recent years as players such as Patrick Patterson (Kentucky), Greg Monroe (Georgetown) and Kenny Boynton (Florida) have committed elsewhere. Meanwhile, rival North Carolina has emerged as a recruiting power with two NCAA titles in the last five years under coach Roy Williams.

But Irving gives Duke its most highly regarded recruit since McRoberts and perhaps its best point guard prospect since Chris Duhon in the Class of 2000. Adding Barnes would immediately make Duke a top contender for the 2011 Final Four, but the Blue Devils face stiff competition for him.

Barnes visited North Carolina for the Tar Heels’ alumni game and Kansas for its practice-opening celebration. He plans to visit UCLA next weekend and take an unofficial visit to Iowa State, which is in his hometown. He also has visited Oklahoma.

“The process for him has been very methodical,” said Ames High coach Vance Downs. “He’s just very patient, takes his time, looks at all his options and then will eventually find the right fit for him.”

Downs said Barnes is improving on the court as he weighs his school decision. He is shooting and handling the ball better, and attacking the basket more on a straight line.

By the time Ames begins practice Nov. 16, Downs said, Barnes plans to announce a decision. It sounds like he will be able to do it without pressure from Irving.

“Harrison, he’s like a big brother to me, and we talk all the time,” Irving said. “Mainly, it’s not about Duke. He’s his own man, and he’s going to make his own decision, and whatever decision he makes, I’m going to be happy for him.”

Ken Tysiac

Clemson’s Tigers working ahead in recruiting

It’s becoming pretty obvious that coach Dabo Swinney’s Clemson staff is adept at closing the deal early with recruiting targets.

The recent additions of Mainland High standouts Marlin Lane and Cortez Davis give the Tigers four committed juniors, an impressive number when you consider that signing day for this year’s seniors is still more than three months away (Feb. 3).

By comparison, South Carolina, North Carolina, N.C. State and Wake Forest have no junior commitments at all.

And Clemson’s early commits are impressive, to say the least. Lane, a running back, was already being recruited by just about everyone when he picked the Tigers. And Davis, who is a 6-5 free safety and skilled enough to play any number of positions, was also considering Florida, Florida St., Oregon and Southern Cal.

Also already in the house are DT DeShaun Williams of Daniel (S.C.) Central High and safety Brandon Ellerbe of Wadesboro Anson High.

Williams committed so quickly that no one else had a chance to offer, but he had been hearing from schools like Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Clemson was also Ellerbe’s first offer, although schools like South Carolina, Notre Dame, Virginia and Stanford were recruiting him at the time.

It shows us that Swinney’s staff is putting a premium on finding talent early and securing it first—and so far it appears to be working.

--Stan Olson

Got recruiting news? Pop it to me at

East Carolina lands ‘sleeper’ Georgia MLB

The Pirates may have smuggled a good one out of Georgia in 6-foot, 260-pound Terry Williams of Grayson High in Loganville, Ga.

“He’s probably the best player I’ve ever coached,” said Grayson coach Mickey Conn moments ago. “Not too many kids I’ve ever coached have his leadership abilities; the kids just follow him. He’s a winner, and he takes it personal when he or the team doesn’t do well.”

Conn said Williams was drawing most of his attention from smaller schools, like Kent State, Eastern Michigan, Samford and Georgia Southern.

“The bigger schools want that height,” he said. “But East Carolina, they’re smart enough to see the big picture. He’s the hardest-hitting player I’ve ever coached.”

And Williams is playing at the state’s highest level—Grayson is 8-0 in Class 5A.

Williams, who has 4.8-second speed, has more than 60 tackles, including an interception, seven pass breakups and five sacks. He’s also scored two TDs while playing FB.

“In college, he could play wherever they need him to—linebacker, defensive end, defensive tackle,” Conn said. “Even fullback.

“He raises the level of the play of the kids around him.”

--Stan Olson

Does Wolfpack have secondary help on the way?

N.C. State has been buried beneath 131 points in its past three games, and Wake Forest’s and Duke’s quarterbacks have picked its secondary apart. So help is desperately needed in that area, right?

Well, it is and it isn’t. There’s already talent on hand, according to our Ken Tysiac. The Pack does already have good young talent enrolled. At safety they’ve got a redshirt freshman—Earl Wolff—and a true freshman—Brandan Bishop—who should be quality players once they gain experience.

At CB, they had another talented freshman, Rashard Smith, but he’s now been lost for the season with a knee injury.

They also have some outstanding secondary prospects currently redshirting, particularly a highly-recruited CB named Jarvis Byrd.

The problem is a lack of veteran experience in the area. Sooner or later, this will be a good group, with or without help from the Class of 2010.

Still, help is on the way, particularly at safety. As you can tell from the above, there are plenty of talented young CBs on campus; now they just have to get them on the field.

went after safeties in this class, and has commitments from safeties Dontae Johnson of Pennington, N.J.; D.J. Green from Macon, Ga.; and Pete Singer of Raleigh.

The keys here are the 6-foot-3, 180-pound Johnson and the 6-4, 202-pound Green. Green, in fact, has the physique to develop into an OLB, but for now the pair is being counted on to strengthen the Wolfpack’s secondary run support.

Depending on the development of Wolff and Bishop, Johnson and Green may or may not get early playing time. Both are smart players who are usually in the right position and solid tacklers.

The bottom line is that once the Class of 2010 is in place, the Wolfpack will have a batch of secondary talent that could eventually be as good as any team’s in the country. A little maturity is all that’s missing.

--Stan Olson

Irving Tweets: Announcement at 5:30 on ESPN-U

Kyrie Irving's announcement of his commitment will occur at 5:30 p.m. today on ESPN-U, according to a post on Irving's Twitter page.

Irving, a senior point guard from St. Patrick High in Elizabeth, N.J., is choosing between Texasa A&M, Duke and Kentucky. He is rated the No. 5 player overall in the nation by

ESPN-U will be airing its "Recruiting Insider" show from 5:30 to 6 tonight. Irving's announcement comes as one of his finalists, Duke, prepares for a visit from forward Harrison Barnes of Ames, Iowa, who's rated the No. 1 player in the Class of 2010 by

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wolfpack, Gators eyeing Crest High sophomore

It started when Boiling Springs Crest Rhaheim Ledbetter’s freshman highlights were posted on Youtube.

“He had 101 tackles, and he knocked off four helmets,” said longtime Crest coach Roy Kirby today. “He’s the only ninth grader we’ve ever had to make all-conference.”

Some Florida coaches watched those highlights and called and invited him to camp next summer.

“I’ll probably drive down with him,” Kirby said. “Then N.C. State called and said, ‘The first legal day we can offer him (a scholarship) we will.”

Ledbetter is playing free safety and running back for the Chargers. He also plays varsity basketball and runs track. He’s already 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, with 4.45-second speed in the 40-yard dash.

“He starts at free safety, and he would probably push our starting running back except that we don’t want him on the field that much; we want him fresh,” Kirby said.

So Florida and N.C. State have started it. Watch everyone else get in line.

--Stan Olson

Irving apparently plans Thursday announcement

It's going to be an extremely interesting week for basketball recruiting at Duke.

Kyrie Irving, a point guard who's rated among the top 10 players in the nation, said on his Twitter page that he plans to announce a commitment Thursday on ESPN-U. Irving, who attends St. Patrick High in Elizabeth, N.J., said he is choosing between Texas A&M, Duke and Kentucky.

The time of the announcement wasn't immediately clear.

If Irving commits to Duke, he could generate momentum for the Blue Devils as 6-foot-6 forward Harrison Barnes makes his official visit to campus this weekend. Irving is rated the nation's fifth-best player overall and second-best point guard (behind Brandon Knight of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) by

Barnes, who's from Ames, Iowa, is the No. 1 player in the Class of 2010 in's rankings.

Ken Tysiac

Heels lead for Daytona Beach WR O.J. Ross?

Heavily-recruited Mainland High wide receiver O.J. Ross may be favoring North Carolina, his coach said last night.

After talking about Clemson commitment Cortez Davis, Mainland coach John Maronto dropped this nugget in:

“O.J. is thinking strongly about North Carolina,” he said. “It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he picked them. They’re in good shape with him.”

Ross visited Purdue over the weekend, and his three leaders are currently the Tar Heels, Boilermakers and Rutgers. He also has offers from South Carolina, West Virginia, Texas Tech and Kentucky. Florida is showing interest, but has not offered.

Ross is 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, and has been clocked at 4.36 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

--Stan Olson

Pop me an email if you know of any recruiting visits, offers or commitments at

Clemson's newest commit a college all-American?

Well, Cortez Davis’ coach at Dayton Beach Mainland High thinks so.

Davis, still just a junior, committed to the Tigers over the weekend, joining teammate and fellow junior Marlin Lane, a running back.

“They both could be all-Americans there by the time their time is done,” said Mainland coach John Maronto Tuesday night. “They’re that good.”

As for Davis, who is already 6-foot-5 but still just 180 pounds. I asked if because of his height, Clemson expected him to eventually put on weight and play TE or along the line.

“No way,” Maronto said. “He’s a skill-position player. I don’t know where he’ll end up but Clemson’s offensive and defensive coaches all want him.

“He’s a freakish guy; he’s got great hands and a 40-inch vertical leap. He’s a very good basketball player—some people around here thought he would be the next Vince Carter, but he realized his future is in football.

“He could be a special player.”

How good is he? Davis started at safety as a freshman, and had seven interceptions. He had four more last year.

“Now people will just not throw it in his direction,” Maronto said.

So why the early commitment?

“He visited last weekend and really liked the atmosphere and all the people. And I give him credit for getting this out of the way and concentrating on the task at hand, which for us is always trying to win a state championship.”

But there was something more, Maronto said.

“Marlin is maybe his best friend; those two kids are very good for each other. They talked about changing their environment, getting out of Florida, improving their chances to make something of their lives.

“I give them a lot of credit for that.”

--Stan Olson

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Independence, Rock Hill South Pointe players commit

*Patriots safety/cornerback Jeremy Inglesi has commited to the Phoenix. Inglesi is 6-foot and 185 pounds, and his Independence position coach, Josh Kranish, thinks Elon landed a solid player.

“Jeremy has great instincts for the ball and the play and seems to get himself in great positions to make plays,” Kranish said. “He is an effort guy who runs his motor full speed.”

*South Pointe center/offensive lineman Jacob McQueen committed to Gardner-Webb Saturday. McQueen, who is a solid 6-foot-4, 260-pounds, has been playing center this season in preparation for his likely position in college.

*QUOTE OF THE WEEK: From North Iredell coach Shannon Ashley, as he described one of his players for our football database, senior LB Ben Haynes.

“He’s our leading tackler,” Ashley said. “He’s missed one play since he was a sophomore. If he gets hurt, teams will score 100 points on us.”

--Stan Olson

Tide visit makes an impression on CB Fulton

Manning cornerback John Fulton (6-0 180), the No.5 prospect on our SC Top 25 Prospects list, completed his official visit to Alabama Monday. He was in Tuscaloosa to see the Crimson Tide scrape past his other likely favorite,South Carolina.

His mother went with him on the visit, and Sunday morning, he had breakfast with Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban.

“He doesn't promise you anything,” Fulton said. “He just gives you the opportunity. That's all I'm looking for.”

Fulton also looked at coverages with defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, saying, “I caught on real fast. It's amazing all the coverages they do.”

Fulton is planning official visits to Florida Nov. 6, South Carolina Nov. 13 and Michigan Nov. 27. He’ll also schedule a trip to LSU.

--Stan Olson

Clemson lands junior safety from Florida

Cortez Davis, a junior S at Mainland High in Daytona Beach, Fla., committed to Clemson after the Tigers’ 38-3 victory over Wake Forest Saturday, according to the web site

Davis, who is 6-foot-5 and 180 pounds, is the second Mainland junior to commit, joining Marlin Lane.

As a freshman, he had 46 tackles and seven interceptions, and followed that with a sophomore season that featured 36 tackles and four interceptions. That year, he was an all-county selection.

I’ve got a call in to his coach, so we may have more information later.

--Stan Olson

Got recruiting news? Email me with offers and visits at

Monday, October 19, 2009

Clemson’s suddenly interested in Hopewell High RB

Hopewell's Dondre Lewis-Freeman ran all over Mooresville Friday night in the Titans’ 42-21 victory, rushing for 224 yards on 14 carries and scoring five TDs.

Clemson’s recruiters quickly took notice.

“They called and asked for film on Dondre,” said Hopewell coach Chris Rust a few minutes ago. “I’ve got a feeling they won’t be the last school to call.”

Lewis-Freeman is still just a junior, so he’s had no offers yet. But any more games like Fridays and colleges will find him hard to ignore.

He’s a solid 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds with 4.6 speed, and as an underclassman, has time to get faster. Friday’s yardage gave him 839 rushing yards for the season, an average of 105 a game. And he now has 12 TDs.

Stats, of course, can be misleading in high school. But Rust believes Lewis-Freeman is the real deal.

“He’s got real good vision; he sees the field well,” Rust said. “He makes good cuts.”

Clemson has noticed. Look for others to follow.

--Stan Olson

Hey, here at the Big O, we find the hot prospects first

In this case, we’re talking about QB Ross Rushing of Piedmont High in Monroe. Not only is Rushing just a sophomore, but he suffered a broken ankle at the end of last season—after starting ten games at QB as a freshman—and only returned three games ago.

In those three games, Piedmont is 3-0, and just qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2004. In those three games Piedmont has scored 137 points (45.7 average) and Rushing, who is already almost 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds with 4.9-second speed, has thrown for more than 400 yards and six TDs and rushed for more than 100 yards and another score. And he's done that despite wearing a brace on that formerly broken left ankle.

“He’s got a lot of upside,” said Piedmont coach Frank Ambrose this afternoon. “He’s one of those guys who may not practice great—although he’s fine in practice—but when the lights come on, he’s a different player, so confident.

“Also, he’s got a good frame to fill out, and he’s got a cannon for an arm. He can already make all the throws.”

Remember, the name is Ross Rushing. He also started for the varsity basketball team as a freshman and was a jayvee baseball standout.

And we told you about him first.

--Stan Olson

Concord DT likes Clemson; Heels, Wolfpack among others becoming interested

Concord First Assembly defensive lineman Ainsley Miller was impressed by his unofficial visit to Clemson over the weekend. The Tigers haven’t made Miller, who is 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds, an official offer yet, but he says the coaches told him they were very interested in him.

“They are very interested,” said First Assembly coach Mike Minter. “They were one of the teams on him early. He’s also going to visit New Mexico, and West Virginia is getting in on him too.”

Miller was joined on his Clemson trip by his mom and two friends.

“I gave them a transcript and film,” Miller said. “Hopefully that will get them to offer me so I can go to their school. I talked with the quarterbacks coach, the defensive line coach and the defensive coordinator. They all seem interested.”

He said he’s also drawing interest from North Carolina, Nebraska, Virginia, N.C. State and TCU. Miller will take an official visit to West Virginia this weekend and to New Mexico (his first offer) December 4th.

He had two more sacks and seven tackles, Minter said, in a half in First Assembly’s blowout of Southlake Friday night. It was 48-0 at the break, so Miller and most of the starters sat out the second half.

Miller now has nine sacks for the season, and First Assembly is 8-0.

--Stan Olson

Got recruiting news—visits, offers, commitments for Carolinas’ kids? Email me at

Friday, October 16, 2009

New Carolinas’ Football Recruiting Database Is Up

Version 3.0 of The Observer’s Carolinas’ Recruiting Database is up and running, and we’ve passed the 700 mark in players listed. We are going to try to get new versions posted every week to ten days now as we had more schools and their players. If you still don’t see your school’s players in the mix, let me know at, and better yet, send me the cell number of your coach.

Obviously, the database is fluid, always changing. If something is out of date or needs correcting, let me know about that as well. I’ll get the info to our technical expert, Dave Enna, and we’ll have it changed in the next edition.

You can always find the database on our sports front page at

--Stan Olson

Schools will soon be chasing Calhoun County's newest big receiver

If you read my previous post, you might be wondering why Shamir Jeffrey wasn’t shifted to quarterback sooner.

“We wanted to move him, but we had a good quarterback (junior Brandon Thomas, being recruited by BCS schools) and we needed a big receiver,” said Calhoun County coach Walter Wilson. “Now we have someone else who can handle that role.”

That someone else is 6-foot-3½, 180-pound sophomore Mark Irick.

“He’s moved in to Shamir’s old spot,” Wilson said. “He only has what we call ‘sophomore speed,’ he’ll get faster. But he and Shamir are both basketball kids, and they know how to go up and get the ball, whether it’s a basketball or a football.”

Irick is running about a 4.7-second 40 now, Wilson said. He’s still a bit gangly, but his coordination will catch up to his body in the coming months, and that speed will almost certainly improve.

Look for the heavy recruiting of Irick to slip into gear next year. And meanwhile, Calhoun County (6-1) has one more weapon to beat you with.

--Stan Olson

Recruiting news? Pop it to me at

Gamecocks, Vols have already offered Alshon Jeffrey's 'little' brother

Calhoun County (S.C.) junior Shamir Jeffrey is the younger brother of South Carolina's Alshon Jeffrey, and possibly just as talented. Good enough that that list of the state’s top 10 juniors that I put together in July should be expanded to 11.

"Everybody's recruiting him, and I mean everybody," says CC coach Walter Wilson. "He has the potential to be special.”

Shifted to QB last week after starring at WR (four TD receptions), Shamir Jeffrey threw three scoing passes in his first game at the position, and caught another. For the evening, he completed 24 of 27 passes for 219 yards.

As we mentioned, South Carolina and Tennessee were the first to offer scholarships to Shamir, but expect a bunch more to follow soon.

Asked who else is seriously interested so far, Wilson had to stop and think for a moment. Then he began rattling off names.

“LSU, Georgia, Wake Forest, Clemson, Georgia Tech,” he said, pausing briefly and then continuing. “North Carolina, UCLA, Oregon and, oh yeah, Alabama.”

It’s easy enough to see why. Jeffrey is 6-foot-3 and pushing 220 pounds, according to Wilson, who added that his speed in the 40-yard dash is 4.55 seconds.

--Stan Olson

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fulton officially visits Crimson Tide—and Gamecocks are in town

Kind of interesting that cornerback John Fulton of Manning High—the No.5 prospect on our SC Top 25 List—picked this weekend to make his official visit to Alabama. South Carolina is in town, and while Fulton’s finalists are a who’s who of southeast powerhouses like Florida, Georgia and LSU, the in-state Gamecocks are believed to have a slight edge over the Tide.

*Also, Gabe King, formerly No.1 on our NC list, tore meniscus in his knee in his first game playing for South Eugene (Ore.) High. He’s supposed to be back by the end of the month, although the injury at first seemed more serious. King’s favorites continue to be Oregon, California and Alabama. And I wouldn’t bet against the Ducks, given that he and the university now inhabit the same town.

--Stan Olson

Gamecocks, Mountaineers grab Charlotte Christian players—for baseball

South Carolina has received the commitment of Charlotte Christian free safety Jake Watson for baseball. Watson, who is having a fine football season (four interceptions), is an outstanding shortstop as well for the Knights, and more highly thought-of as a baseball prospect.

A similar situation has unfolded with Christian’s quarterback, John Kincaid. While he’s having an excellent season that includes more than 1,000 passing yards and 15 TDs, he’s a bigger baseball prospect, and we mean that literally.

At 6-foot and 175 pounds, Kincaid is not big enough to play quarterback at the highest collegiate level, where they like their QBs to be 6-3. A pitcher and outfielder for the Knights, he’s committed to Appalachian State on a baseball grant.

--Stan Olson

First Appalachian commit lives next door to Western Carolina

I talked to Graham Fisher last night, and Appalachian State’s first commitment for its class of 2010—and its first offer—couldn’t be more excited if he had committed to Notre Dame.

“When they offered me, I committed on the spot,” he said excitedly. “I had told people I was going to.”

You know who that’s toughest on? Western Carolina.

Fisher is a 6-foot-2, 275-pound senior at Waynesville Tuscola, where he plays center and long-snaps. He grew up 15 minutes from Western’s campus, and his dad played baseball for the Catamounts.

But such is Appalachian’s reach in the N.C. mountains these days that it plucked Fisher right out of Western’s backyard.

“Appalachian’s pretty close to home,” he said, somewhat ironically. “And those three national championships really got my attention. I came to their summer camp and they really worked us hard. I fell in love with the place.

Fisher, by the way, is about as close as you can come to being a BCS prospect without actually being one.

“I’m 6-2, maybe really more like 6-1½,” he said. “Those Division I schools like their linemen to be 6-3.”

He had gotten mail from a number of major schools, including Syracuse and Boston College.

“But I knew I was gonna be borderline,” he said. “But I couldn’t be happier that I’m going to Appalachian."

--Stan Olson

Got recruiting news? Pop it to me at

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Appalachian State receives first commitment in OL Fisher

Graham Fisher, a 6-foot-2, 275-pound center/long snapper at Waynesville Tuscola High, was the first player Appalachian has offered this year, according to his mom, Vann. He accepted the scholarship in a heartbeat.

Fisher, who has 5.25-second speed in the 40-yard dash, had also been offered by VMI, and was setting up visits to Wofford and The Citadel. But all that ended when the Mountaineers—his favorite—offered.

Fisher has a 4.09 grade-point average, can bench-press 355 pounds and squat 520.

If you’re curious as to why ASU hasn’t offered more players, most of the FCS schools wait until the BCS schools have picked their classes, then move in. But Fisher, because of his height, wasn’t being recruited by the bigger schools.
So Appalachian jumped in.

BCS schools can have a total of 85 players on scholarship; FCS schools, 63.

--Stan Olson

Volunteers to take another look at Sumter QB Curtis

Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin and assistant David Reaves visited Sumter High today, just to touch base with commitment Marques Pair, an offensive lineman and the No.13 member of our SC Top 25 Prospects list.

“They are also going to reevaluate Stephen Curtis,” Sumter offensive coordinator Grayson Howell said in an email.

Curtis is a 6-foot-3, 218-pound QB who has drawn some long looks from BCS schools but so far has only an offer from Liberty. He’s having another sensational season, though, having completed 89 of 175 passes for 1,273 yards and 15 TDs. He is also fairly mobile, having run for 246 yards and seven scores.

--Stan Olson

East Meck's Howard proves his worth against the best

I was impressed with the performance of East Mecklenburg junior RB Ronald Howard in last Friday’s game with Butler. Facing a superior defense, he dipped and darted, sprinted and squirmed his way to 133 rushing yards and a TD on 19 carries. Many of those runs would have ended in tackles for loss but for Howard’s obvious elusiveness. And he reminded me of Butler’s Anthony Short with his speed and ability to run in space.

If there’s a problem here as far as recruiting goes, it’s that Howard is listed as 5-foot-6 and 155 pounds.

While he has no official offers yet, coach Greg Hill said, “A lot of people are talking. The majority that are talking are I-AAs (FCS schools); they are really heavy on him. The 1-As are saying they don’t know if they’ll make him a full-ride offer because of size.

“But they are saying that if he can show the ability to play special teams—kick returns, punt returns, that type of stuff—then maybe they can work him in on offense.”

Hill paused.

“He’s just very gifted. It’s a shame that we don’t have enough around him right now. God’s been very good to that kid.”

And as a junior, he also has a year to grow.

--Stan Olson

Tar Heels' recruiting class climbs in's rankings

It’s amazing what a four-star recruit can do for your national rankings.

We refer to North Carolina’s commitment from OT T.J. Leifheit, who picked UNC over Tennessee and Southern Cal after his official visit to Chapel Hill last weekend.

I don’t put a lot of stock in the star ratings system, but it’s the only one we’ve got. And since the Tar Heels had just one five-star and one four-star recruit before landing T.J., his decision bumped up the sky blue Class of 2010.

The week before, UNC had Scout’s 46th-ranked class on Scout. Leifheit bumped the Tar Heels up nine spots to No.37, five behind N.C. State. Clemson leads Carolinas’ ACC schools at No.22.

North Carolina
has fewer commitments (11) than all but one of the 12 ACC schools, so Leifheit was bound to make an impact. The Tar Heels’ quality, though, has been consistently good, with ten of those 11 holding three or more stars. Their average player rating of 3.18 stars is the highest mark in the ACC.

--Stan Olson

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Butler QB LeMay by the numbers

By now, everyone knows that Butler junior QB Christian LeMay is considered a bigtime prospect, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound athlete with agility and a rifle for an arm. He’s already been offered by more than a dozen schools, most recently by Clemson.

So we thought we’d check the stats on LeMay through six games, three of which I’ve seen:

After torching East Mecklenburg for 11 completions in 14 tries, an effort that produced 182 yards and three TDs, LeMay has now completed 65 of 97 passes, or 67 percent. That has produced 1,214 yards and 17 TDs. And one—count it, one—interception.

Keep in mind that LeMay has a ton of talent around him; great receivers, fine RBs and a strong offensive line. But that shouldn’t take away from his ability to make any throw necessary, and his remarkable accuracy as a junior.

From what I’ve seen, expect the offers to just keep coming.

--Stan Olson

If you have some recruiting info--visits, offers or commitments, email me at

Clemson invites Concord 1st Assembly's Miller for official visit this weekend

Ainsley Miller, Concord First Assembly’s huge DT, will take an official visit to Clemson this weekend, First Assembly coach Mike Minter said.

“Clemson is very hot in this race now,” Minter said. Miller has already visited New Mexico, and other schools, including Maryland and North Carolina, are showing interest in the 6-foot-4, 270-pound defender.

Miller has numbers more befitting a defensive end; eight sacks, 65 tackles, four forced fumbles and two recovered fumbles through seven games.

*Minter says S/WR/QB Brandon Stegall is also stirring up considerable interest.

“He’s taken official visits to North Carolina and N.C. State in the past month,” Minter said. “He’s caught four touchdown passes at wide receiver, and rushed for about 400 yards and three TDs at quarterback.”

Minter laughed. “We don’t throw when he’s at quarterback.”

He added that Stegall has just one interception, primarily because opponents keep the ball away from him.

*The QB that does throw for Concord is David Larson, who Minter said has passed for at least 160 yards in each of the past three games, since the coach opened up the offense a bit. He’s thrown for eight TDs.

Virginia asked for film on him, but we’ve got to get him more looks,” Minter said.

*And how about RB/CB Tony Moore? He has rushed for 1,205 yards through seven games, and is just hitting his stride.

“In his last three games, he has rushed for 260, 230 and 225 yards,” Minter said. “And he has seven touchdowns.”

He also has four interceptions at CB.

“He’ll probably have to go to junior college or prep school first,” Minter said. “But he can play for somebody, probably at cornerback.”

*Kyle Grisby, another of these Concord seniors, has 4.4 speed and has scored five TDs from his slot receiver post.

“He also returns kicks, and is averaging 175 all-purpose yards a game,” Minter said.

Grisby, though, is 5-foot-8, and that scares off the bigger programs. Catawba and some other Division II schools are looking at him hard, though.

*Finally, don’t forget MLB Matt Wallace, who has five sacks of his own. Minter said that Wallace, a tough and smart player, is a step slow for BCS schools, but is getting attention from smaller programs such as Wingate.

“And we’ve got more kids coming,” Minter said. “In the next few years, those recruiters better just grab a tent and camp out here.”

--Stan Olson

Brantley impresses after move to quarterback

We recently told you about our guy Tehvyn Brantley of Durham Mt. Zion, the little wide receiver we followed through the summer as he zigzagged cross-country on a tour of camps and combines, trying to prove that despite his 5-foot-8 size, he could play.He proved it to a number of people, and is now sitting on offers from North and South Carolina while he finishes up a Spanish class that would qualify him for college.

Two games ago, Brantley was shifted to QB after the starter abruptly left the program. He’s put up surprisingly good numbers for a kid with no experience at the position.

To get an unbiased opinion of Brantley, we checked with Hampton (Va.) Christian coach Terry Laufer, Mt. Zion’s most recent opponent and victim of a 48-14 Warriors’ win.

“I was surprised it was just his second game at quarterback,” Laufer said. “He’s an outstanding football player. He has the quickest feet we’ve seen this year; maybe the quickest feet I’ve ever seen in high school.

“His football IQ was amazing. It was just his second game and he looked like he had been running the offense all season, out there directing his players into the right formations.

“He won’t project as a Division I QB because of his size, and his arm isn’t strong enough, but I can definitely see him being a receiver or a return man at that level.”

In the game, Brantley threw for four scores and ran for another.

--Stan Olson

Monday, October 12, 2009

East Meck QB could wind up playing baseball

Olen Little is a solid prep QB at East, strong-armed and 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds. He'll eventually receive some college football scholarship offers, but he's also a big-time pitching prospect and hasn't decided which way to go.

He was knocked out of East's game with Butler Friday night by a rib-bruising sack, but took a Saturday baseball visit to Limestone College anyway.

"I was pretty sore Saturday morning but had to get up to take the SAT," Little told me in a post-trip email. "Afterwards I traveled to Limestone and threw a bullpen (session) for their pitching coach, Mike Ranson. I did not hit 90 mph on the gun this time, but he was not expecting that with me devoting this fall to football.

"He had seen a video clip on YouTube of our game at Myers Park and even though we lost, he saw pitching potential in my quarterback throws. As a result, he did make me an offer and is going to do his best to get me to commit to Limestone."

Western Carolina, Presbyterian and Catawba are the primary schools currently looking at Little for football, and he is considering playing both sports in college.

-- Stan Olson

T.J. Leifheit talks about his Tar Heels commitment

Wilmington Hoggard all-America offensive tackle T.J. Leifheit just took a few minutes out of his weight-lifting class to talk about his commitment to North Carolina:

YOU NARROWED IT DOWN TO UNC, TENNESSEE AND SOUTHERN CAL; WHAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE?: “It just felt like home when I was up there for my visit this past weekend. I’ve got a number of friends there. And I have a great relationship with (O-line coach) Sam Pittman. We talked on the phone probably two or three times a week for the past year.”

YOU RECENTLY VISITED TENNESSEE TWICE. WERE YOU LEANING THAT WAY FOR A TIME?: “I was a little bit; I really liked it there. And I liked Southern Cal, because of all the tradition and the fact that they’ve put so many offensive linemen in the pros. But after this (Chapel Hill) trip, I just felt like Carolina was the right place for me.”

HOW IS UNC PLANNING TO USE YOU?: “They said they’ll start me off at tackle—left tackle. They’ll try me there first. And they told me that since I’m going to enroll in January (and will participate in spring practice), I have a great chance to earn early playing time.”

ARE YOUR GRADES HOLDING UP OKAY?: “I’ve got all ‘As’ this semester, and a 3.8 grade-point average overall.”

YOU COMMITED TO (HEAD COACH) BUTCH DAVIS SUNDAY MORNING. WHAT HAD HE TOLD YOU? “I knew that he had rebuilt Miami, and he said the rebuilding program at North Carolina is two years ahead of where it was at the same time in Miami. I had talked to Coach Pittman a lot about being part of rebuilding at Carolina, getting the program where we want it to be. That means a lot to me.”

--Stan Olson

Wolfpack, Blue Devils, Thundering Herd, Georgia Southern are interested in Butler High players

Butler OL/DL Kendal Lamm is having a strong season, one that earned him a recent unofficial visit to N.C. State. “That went well; he had a good time,” Bulldogs coach Mike Newsome said of the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Lamm. “Those guys are still in the mix. I think Duke’s really close to offering him, Marshall’s really close to offering him. I think if he just keeps playing like he’s playing, those things are going to come for him.”

*One of the more intriguing players in the area is Butler WR/S Nate Charest. I watched him score two TDs offensively and another on an interception Friday at East Mecklenburg, and then asked him where his recruiting stood.

“I’ve still got Gardner-Webb offering me and Catawba, so they’re at the top of the list right now,” Charest said. “But coach (Newsome) told me today that Georgia Southern was interested, so that’s somebody new.”

Charest is listed at 5-foot-10 but may have to stretch to reach that, and he’s 170 pounds. If he had more size, the big schools would be swarming over him because of his great football instincts.

Georgia Southern came by (Friday) and they like Nate a lot, and they like (HB) Anthony Short a lot,” Newsome said. “I think they’re going to come up here and recruit some of our guys.

“Nate would really love to go to Appalachian State; I think he would fit in good; his dad is an App grad. So I told him, ‘Maybe you can get Georgia Southern and just go up and beat App every year.”

*Short, by the way, is much like Charest, under-recruited. He’s one of the quickest, shiftiest players in the state, but his 5-10 height is also a bit of a stretch. Tackling him is like trying to grab a ghost.

--Stan Olson

Likely Clemson offer shows interest increasing in Butler junior LB/WR Kris Frost

Butler wide receiver linebacker Kris Frost could be the next in a long line of Bulldogs players to become a huge recruiting target. I covered the Bulldogs’ game at East Mecklenburg Friday and learned the unsurprising news that Butler junior QB Christian LeMay would be offered by Clemson—who had a coach in the stands—and the more surprising info that WR/LB Kris Frost, also a junior, might also soon get a bid from the Tigers.

“Kris is an amazing player and he just keeps getting better,” Butler coach Mike Newsome said after watching Frost scoop up a fumbled pitch and take it in for a TD. “He’s going to be one of those five-star, national-recruit guys. The thing with him is, he’s got a motor that doesn’t quit.”

Frost, who is approaching 6-foot-3 and has topped 200 pounds, would like to play offense in college, and has said he likes Michigan; has since he was a kid. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him wind up at LB, though; he is strong and quick and already filling out; he could play at 225 or 230 with no loss of speed in college.

While no one has offered him yet, Clemson had a coach in the stands Friday, and the guy told Newsome that an offer for Frost might be coming soon.

--Stan Olson

As usual, send me recruiting visits offers and commitments if you hear of them at

Tar Heels land all-American OT T.J. Leifheit

Wilmington Hoggard offensive tackle T.J. Leifheit, the No.6-ranked player on The Observer’s NC Top 25 Prospects list, has committed to North Carolina.

Leifheit, who had several dozen offers, picked UNC over fellow finalists Tennessee and Southern Cal, committing during a meeting with Tar Heels coach Butch Davis on his official visit to Chapel Hill Sunday morning.

Tennessee really came on strong at the end,” Hoggard coach Scott Braswell said a few minutes ago. “But I think he just really had a strong relationship with the coaches at North Carolina. And we have three guys (fellow Hoggard players) up there, and I think that contributed to his decision. He just felt comfortable there.

“Also, Carolina offensive line coach Sam Pittman took over his recruitment, and the two of them had built a good relationship.”

Asked about Leifheit’s strengths, Braswell said, “He’s just a big kid with good feet and a good work ethic.”

His commitment is a huge boost for UNC, which had been off to a slow start in building its class of 2010. Now Leifheit, who is 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, joins fellow OL recruits James Hurst and Johnnie Farms, all three of whom are preparing to enroll for the spring semester, in addressing the program’s biggest need—O-line depth and talent.

--Stan Olson

Friday, October 9, 2009

Clemson planning to offer Butler QB LeMay--and probably LB Frost as well

Butler's talented players continue to capture the attention of college scouts. I covered the Bulldogs' 52-13 blowout of East Mecklenburg earlier this evening and then caught up with Butler coach Mike Newsome.

“The coach from Clemson was here tonight,” Newsome said. “And he said the scholarship offer would be in the mail to Christian (QB LeMay) tonight and one probably wouldn’t be far behind for (linebacker/receiver) Kris Frost either.”

LeMay, a junior who already has more than a dozen offers, had another big game, completing 11 of 14 passes for 182 yards and three TDs. Frost, also a junior and an all-around athlete who plays linebacker and wide receiver, scored a touchdown after recovering a bad East pitch and carrying it 16 yards into the end zone.

--Stan Olson

Head over to Gastonia and meet Twin I and Twin II

Anyway, that’s what the Ashbrook coaches call Isaiah and Israel Watson, the team’s starting offensive tackles. After all, they are identical twins, each of them 6-foot-3 and 285 pounds and facially, carbon copies.

Green Wave head coach Mike Briggs had several assistants nearby when he mentioned the pair. I asked who started on the left side and who started on the right, and Briggs laughed.

“Hey coach,” he said to an assistant, “which twin plays left tackle?”

Informed that LT belonged to Isaiah, Briggs said, “I just know ‘em as Nos. 73 and 78.”

Finally, this year there is a minor difference.

“One has his hair a little longer now,” Briggs said, “But with helmets on, they’re still identical.”

Since offensive linemen tend to develop more slowly than players at other positions, Briggs has hopes that both will play effectively in college, even though they are not being significantly recruited now.

“They’re getting bigger and better every day,” he said.

Had the Twins ever switched jerseys in practice as a joke? Briggs asked Isaiah, who was lifting weights nearby, and I could hear the laugh.

“He assures me they haven’t,” Briggs said.

Next practice, though, watch out.

--Stan Olson

ECU Pirates make first move on SW Guilford junior

East Carolina, off to a sluggish start on their 2010 recruiting class, are trying for a fast start on the 2011 group with a scholarship offer to Southwest Guilford junior Airyn Willis. The Pirates are the first school to offer Willis, a 6-foot-2, 180 RB/DB who would likely play wide receiver or safety in college.

But tonight, according to Southwest Guilford coach Scott Schwarzer, he’ll be at quarterback for the first time when the Cowboys play Ragsdale.

Willis has averaged 88 rushing yards through six games, with seven TDs. He also has two interceptions on defense.

Willis, as you might guess from the sudden shift to QB, is remarkably athletic, and ECU gets credit for being the first school to pull the trigger on him.

The Pirates are not having a particularly good recruiting start on their Class of 2010, but this could give them a leg up on 2011.

--Stan Olson

Lowe lures highly recruited Cothron to N.C. State

N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe and assistant Monte Towe lured Luke Cothron with their plan to restore Wolfpack basketball to prominence.

Cothron, a highly recruited senior forward from Red Springs (N.C.) Flora MacDonald Academy, liked what he heard and committed to N.C. State on Friday morning.

He is 6-foot-8 and 215 pounds and also considered Alabama, Connecticut, Florida State and Tennessee.

"Those guys were all in there, but in the end, the common component they didn’t have was Coach Lowe,” Flora MacDonald coach Derrick Bond said. “Just his pitch, his history with North Carolina State, Coach Towe’s history and how they talked about the past and the Pack pride and the history and championships they were accustomed to, and just getting it back to that, they did a great job of selling Luke."

Cothron, who’s originally from Huntsville, Ala., averaged 27 points, 18 rebounds and four blocked shots per game as a junior. He is rated the 57th-best prospect overall in the Class of 2010 by

He joins point guard Ryan Harrow of Marietta, Ga., and shooting guard Lorenzo Brown of Hargrave Military Academy in what’s considered a strong Class of 2010 haul for N.C. State.

Brown signed with N.C. State and was set to be a freshman this season but is spending a year at Hargrave to get his grades in order. All-Star Sports analyst Bob Gibbons said he has heard that Brown is playing extremely well this fall, and that Cothron adds to “a very nice class.”

"I think adding him to, I think Ryan Harrow gives them what they need first - a pass-first, true point guard to quarterback the team and run the offense,” Gibbons said. “Lorenzo Brown can play the point, but he’s better off the ball, setting up his scoring abilities, the moves from the mid-range. He is a very complete all-around player.”

Bond said Cothron is versatile enough to play with his back to the basket or facing the basket and is an outstanding rebounder. He said Lowe did a great job selling Cothron on how he would be embraced at N.C. State, and said Cothron enjoyed the atmosphere in Raleigh.

"Every time we went up there for a visit and watched a football game or a basketball game, the atmosphere was just amazing,” Bond said. “It just felt right for him."

Ken Tysiac

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wolfpack gets a visit from Rock Hill High's McFadden

Rock Hill High DB Xavier McFadden is planning an unofficial visit to N.C. State this weekend, coach Joe Montgomery said today.

“He went to Kentucky two weeks ago and now it’s N.C. State,” Montgomery said. He also said he wouldn’t be surprised if the 5-foot-11, 175-pound McFadden got an offer from the Wolfpack at the end of the season if his grades are in order.

McFadden had planned to visit South Carolina last weekend, but had to back out because of illness. He hopes to travel to Columbia later in the season.

By the way, Georgia Southern is working Rock Hill hard. The Eagles have not only been recruiting McFadden, but also athlete Jatavius Stewart and RB Jamal Tyler.

Stewart, with a 4.32-second 40, is one of the fastest players in the state and Tyler (4.4) is not far behind.

--Stan Olson

Gators expected to offer Gastonia Ashbrook LB Otis

Now the Florida Gators have apparently jumped in on outside linebacker/defensive end Norkeithus Otis, according to Green Wave coach Mike Briggs.

“That’s what I understand,” Briggs said a few minutes ago. “He should be getting an offer in the mail real soon.”

Otis is a 6-foot-3, 205-pound junior with 4.6-second speed in the 40-yard dash. South Carolina, N.C. State and Wofford have already offered scholarships, and Clemson is strongly interested, Briggs said.

Through six games, Otis is averaging 9 tackles a game, with five sacks and two fumble recoveries.

“His motor won't quit; everyone loves this kid," said Briggs. “He's got long arms, big hands, a long stride and a big frame."

--Stan Olson