Monday, November 30, 2009

Tar Heels swipe early Duke recruit Lipford

Long-time Duke commitment and OLB Darius Lipford of Lenoir Hibriten, who had been wavering in his pledge to the Blue Devils for some time, made it official over the past week, telling North Carolina coach Butch Davis he was switching to the Tar Heels and sending the Duke staff an email to that effect.

While Hibriten coach Chuck Cannon said, “I don’t know anything about it; I stay out of that stuff,” Lipford confirmed it to

“I had been thinking about it for the last three months, pretty much, on and off,” Lipford said. “(I've been) trying to figure out what school I like better. Pretty much, I came to the conclusion that Carolina seemed like a better fit for me.”

Lipford, who is 6-foot-3 and 204 pounds with 4.6 speed, had also been considering taking official visits to Clemson, South Carolina and Virginia.

He says now that he’ll take his official to Chapel Hill and no others.

“I had been thinking about it for the last three months, pretty much, on and off," Lipford said. “(I've been) trying to figure out what school I like better. Pretty much, I came to the conclusion that Carolina seemed like a better fit for me.”

--Stan Olson

And some other top SC juniors as well

We didn’t have room for some of South Carolina’s top juniors on our list, and even the addition of this group doesn’t come close to making us all-inclusive in S.C. But here are a dozen more names to familiarize yourselves with:

Columbia Riverside CB D.J. Bolden, Greenville WR Joe Bowen, Summerville RB D’Angelo Henderson, Seneca DT Jalen Hunter, Fort Dorchester DL Tracey James, Pauley’s Island OL Jerome Maybank, Greenville Mann DB Pat Martin, Anderson Westside DL Fredricus Mattison, Duncan Byrnes OL C.J. Pulley, Camden DL Jerel Robertson, Simpsonville Hillcrest LB Mike Rose and Hanahan S/LB Sebastian Short.

Which juniors will play major college football? These guys have a shot, and we'll be tracking them,

Stan Olson

Here are some more N.C. juniors to watch:

One thing publishing a list does is stir things up, and our Thanksgiving Day ranking of the Top 20 junior prospects in each of North and South Carolina certainly got things buzzing.

Keep in mind, I have no clue as to whether these players will wind up being highly recruited members of the Class of 2011 by the end of their senior seasons. Right now, though, they are highly thought-of, some more for their physical tools than what they’ve accomplished so far.

Here is another group of 20 juniors who either just missed the cut or were politely (in some cases) pointed out to me by alert readers:

Mocksville Davie LB Jared Barber, Ardrey Kell RB/DB Justus Pickett, Butler DB Mark Bridges, Fayetteville Sanford LB Nick Broussard, Fayetteville Sanford RB Anthony Clanton, Carson WR Cody Clanton, Independence RB Nyjee Fleming, Butler WR/LB Kris Frost, Hopewell RB Dondre’ Lewis-Freeman, Asheville WR/DE Jeoffrey Pagan, Fayetteville Sanford WR Dante McDonald, West Iredell CB Dominique Noble, Salisbury S Darien Rankin, Kannapolis Brown RB Travis Riley, Country Day QB Morgan Roberts, Country Day RB Jalen Ross, West Charlotte RB Scoot Simmons, Fayetteville 71st RB/DB Maurice Scruggs, Athens Drive QB Ben Snotherly and Southwest Guilford RB Airwyn Willis.

Welcome back, Stan!

Thanks guys, and since you possibly considered asking, Thanksgiving was great. Relatives, massive quantities of food stuffed with fat grams, and lots of ping pong to (sort of) work it off. Well, not quite; I gained 5 pounds over the long weekend.

But back to work—send me any recruiting stuff I’ve missed, and I’m always missing something, as many of you let me know. The address is

--Stan Olson

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Top 40 junior prospects (with video)

Coming next season to a high school football field near you: "The Year of the Quarterbacks."

Here's The Observer's first list of the top college football prospects in North and South Carolina among high school juniors (we've been listing seniors since the 1980s). The most noticeable thing is that there are quality quarterbacks everywhere.

Consider that our current list of Top 50 senior prospects for the two states includes one player widely considered to be a quarterback at the collegiate level - Waynesville Tuscola High's Tyler Brosius.

Our smaller group of juniors - 20 ranked in each state for a total of 40 - includes 11 fairly certain to play the position and several more of the "athlete" variety who could.

To cull this group, we've left out a bunch of other quarterbacks, some of whom could be among our Top 50 seniors next spring.

Anyway, the only thing certain about this list is that it will change. So Happy Thanksgiving. Our postseason Top 50 Seniors list will be in your stocking on Christmas Day.

--Stan Olson


1. Christian LeMay, QB, Butler, 6-foot-3, 200 pounds: Already has 17 offers from major schools, most recently getting one from Alabama. LeMay has confidence in the pocket, is strong and accurate and has 35 touchdown passes with two interceptions.

2. Stephone Anthony, OLB, Wadesboro Anson, 6-3, 220, 4.65 time in the 40: A top-100 player on all the recruiting service lists, Anthony's speed and strength make him ridiculously hard to block. He has already scooped up a bushel of offers, from as far away as UCLA.

3. Norkeithus Otis, LB/DE, Gastonia Ashbrook, 6-3, 205, 4.6: Tremendous speed and pursuit ability, a prospect drawing more interest every day. Offers from South Carolina, Florida and Maryland. "His motor won't quit," coach Mike Briggs said. "He's got long arms, big hands, a long stride and a big frame."

4. Marquise Williams, QB, Mallard Creek, 6-4, 220: This guy has been shooting up the recruiting ladder, and is now receiving interest from every ACC school and most of the SEC. Strong-armed and quick for his size.

5. Nigel King, WR, Raleigh Wakefield: 6-3, 185, 4.55: Despite missing half of this season with a hip injury, King returned to his dominant receiver form. He has a half-dozen offers, including North Carolina and N.C. State.

6. Drew Owens, TE, Ardrey Kell: 6-5, 230, 4.75: Blessed with good speed for his size and an ability to go up and get the ball, Owens already has seven offers, with more expected.

7. Eric Ebron, TE, Greensboro Smith, 6-5, 225, 4.75: This big guy didn't play football as a sophomore because of transcript problems after transferring from Rhode Island. Once back in action, everyone noticed him.

8. K.J. Brent, WR, Marvin Ridge, 6-4, 185, 4.65: Finished the season with 44 receptions for 679 yards and six TDs. North Carolina offered first, and East Carolina, Duke and South Carolina have followed.

9. Brandon Ellerbe, RB/S, Wadesboro Anson: 6-1, 205, 4.5: This early Clemson commitment was shifted to RB after three games, and has produced more than 1,400 yards and 11 TDs since. Probably a college safety.

10. Brian Taylor, QB, Harnett Central, 6-3, 200: Passed for 1,783 yards and ran for 861 more for an undefeated team. Also a standout baseball and basketball player, and already offered a scholarship by North Carolina.

11. Eric MacLain, TE, Fayetteville Britt, 6-5, 265: An early commitment to Tennessee, MacLain is a solid blocking tight end who has the size to shift to offensive line for the Vols.

12. Christian Russell, RB/LB, Fayetteville Westover, 6-0, 210, 4.55: He finished the season with 1,729 rushing yards and 23 TDS. He also totaled 120 tackles at middle linebacker. North Carolina was his first offer and is considered the early leader.

13. B.J. Sherrill, QB, West Rowan, 5-11, 220, 4.8: Has the Falcons on track for a second straight state 3A title. Sherrill, solid and muscular, has thrown for 1,853 yards, 20 TDs and 6 interceptions. But how will he do without RB K.P. Parks next year?

14. Garrett Leatham, QB, Apex Middle Creek, 6-5, 230: This guy has blown up quickly and is starting to attract considerable attention. Through 12 games, he passed for 3,400 yards.

15. Vad Lee, QB, Durham Hillside, 6-0, 194, 4.5: Moved from WR to QB this season and had a strong year, throwing for 1,700 yards and rushing for 700 more.

16. Brian Riggins, WR/DB, Tabor City S. Columbus, 6-1, 185: Quick and sure-handed, and impressive enough that as soon as official offers were permitted, North Carolina, East Carolina and Virginia Tech jumped in.

17. Maurice Harris, WR/CB, Northern Guilford, 6-3, 205, 4.6: Harris had 14 regular-season TD receptions. "Everybody's interested in him, and he gets better each week," coach Johnny Roscoe said. Harris is still growing and could morph into a TE or DE in college.

18. Price Litton, QB, Providence Day, 6-3, 209, 4.64: After a slow start, Litton finished strong, justifying the major prospect status that was bestowed on him after excellent camp showings.

19. Zeek Bigger, LB, Gastonia Ashbrook: 6-3, 215, 4.7: Almost a carbon copy of teammate Otis, Bigger is, well, slightly bigger and not quite as fast. "He's mission-guided; a hard worker who won't quit," coach Mike Briggs said. South Carolina has offered.

20. Kyle Kinnaird, QB, Alexander Central, 6-1, 175, 4.75: Coach Tom Harper thinks Kinnaird has a chance to be special. "He does not get rattled, and he's also a threat running-wise." This year, on a running team, he rushed for 1,139 yards.

Sleeper: Cory Hunter, RB, Fuquay-Varina, 5-10, 180, 4.5: You might not have heard of him yet, but he rushed for 1,993 yards and 34 TDs this season. Also had 463 rushing yards in a game, second-highest in state history.


1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, Rock Hill South Pointe, 6-6, 240, 4.6: Clowney could well be the No.1 prospect in South Carolina next year. "That dude could very well be a first-round NFL draft choice a few years from now," coach Bobby Carroll said. Clowney has tremendous speed and a burst off the edge that often has him arriving at the QB untouched.

2. Charone Peake, WR, Roebuck Dorman, 6-4, 190, 4.4: Coach David Gutshall called Peake "big-time, one of the best prospects in the nation." As a freshman on the varsity, Peake turned the first four passes he caught into TDs.

3. Justin Worley, QB, Rock Hill Northwestern, 6-5, 190, 4.85: Coach Jimmy Wallace said Worley was "the most mature 10th-grade player I've had in 37 years of coaching. He has tremendous potential." Worley is also a standout in baseball (pitcher) and basketball (forward). He has 3,819 passing yards and 37 TDs.

4. Shon Carson, RB, Lake City, 5-9, 195, 4.4: Blazing speed and surprising power have translated into numerous offers for Carson, whose team is still alive in the 3A playoffs. Scholarship offers have come from most major Carolinas schools, and even UCLA is in the hunt. Also an outstanding baseball shortstop and center fielder, he wants to play both sports.

5. Everett Golson, QB, Myrtle Beach, 6-0, 175: A remarkably strong arm, and he played well at the spring camps. Piling up huge prep numbers, as well as offers - North Carolina (leader), South Carolina, Clemson, Florida and Virginia Tech, among others.

6. Brandon Shell, OL, Goose Creek: 6-7, 310: Good quickness to go with massive size. Shell already has offers from Clemson and South Carolina, along with SEC powers Florida, Georgia and Louisiana State.

7. Phillip Dukes, DT, Manning, 6-3, 280: A prep DE, he has forced six fumbles and had seven sacks among about 60 tackles. Expected to move to DT in college, and Dukes is already collecting offers from the likes of South Carolina, Clemson and Alabama.

8. Lateek Townsend, LB, Marlboro County, 6-2, 215, 4.7: Clemson, N.C. State, South Carolina, Illinois and Maryland have already offered. He moved from suspect to prospect with a monster junior season. Projected as a linebacker in college, he also was a dominant RB.

9. Dexter Staley, LB, Williston-Elko, 6-2, 220, 4.6: A powerful hitter who's probably a linebacker in college, although also a RB as a high school star. Offers from Clemson, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Maryland.

10. Tony McNeal, QB, Chester, 6-2, 165: Although he missed four games to injury, McNeal still put up stellar numbers, finishing with 1,732 passing yards and 18 TDs, and helping Chester finish with a 10-2 record.

11. Shamir Jeffrey, QB/WR, Calhoun County, 6-3, 220, 4.55: Shifted from WR to QB in the middle of the season and didn't miss a beat. "Everybody's recruiting him, and I mean everybody," coach Walter Wilson said.

12. Ronnie Martin, CB/WR, Spartanburg, 5-11, 170, 4.3: "He's just faster than everybody else," coach Freddie Brown said. "He'll be able to pick from places like Miami, Oklahoma, Florida State, Michigan and Southern Cal. He'll be that good."

13. Roderick Byers, DL, Rock Hill Northwestern, 6-4, 250, 4.8: "Rod has tremendous potential," coach Jimmy Wallace said. "He's played very well this year." Playing mostly in the middle, Byers has 65 tackles, two sacks and 10 QB pressures.

14. Robert Smith, QB/ATH, Dorchester Woodland, 5-11, 190, 4.7: Smith has been offered by Clemson, and a number of ACC schools are interested. If he doesn't grow, expect him to be a safety in college.

15. Dominique Cooper, RB, Darlington, 6-1, 195, 4.4: "That speed is legit," coach Justin Danner said. "When he breaks out, you might as well go ahead and warm up the band." Despite two nagging injuries, Cooper rushed for 1,200 yards and 11 TDs.

16. Gerald Dixon, DE, Rock Hill South Pointe, 6-3, 245, 4.6: "A great young man who obviously has great genes," coach Jimmy Wallace said. "His dad - also Gerald Dixon - played for South Carolina and in the NFL."

17. Gerald Dixon, DT, Rock Hill Northwestern, 6-4, 275, 4.9: Playing DT and DE in high school, but likely to wind up at DT in college. Strong and powerful, with a burst capable of collapsing the pocket. Brother of South Pointe's Gerald Dixon.

18. DeShaun Williams, DT, Central Daniel, 6-1, 290: Clemson made an offer in the summer of 2009 and Williams accepted. He's been good but not great as a junior, and height could be an issue at the highest level.

19. Robert Joseph, WR, Rock Hill Northwestern, 5-10, 170, 4.55: Holds the state record with 128 receptions, and should expand that Friday. Worley's favorite target (Think Manning-to-Harrison) also has 1,596 receiving yards and 15 TDs.

20. Hakeem Flowers, WR, Greenville Hampton, 6-3, 180, 4.4: He has already passed two dozen offers - you don't often find a kid as tall as he is who can run as fast as he can.

Sleeper: Craig Weick, WR/TE, Duncan Byrnes, 6-6, 220, 4.8: "He's probably a TE in college," coach Chris Miller said. "He can put on a lot of weight, and he has good hands."

A feast of recruiting info for holiday

Happy Thanksgiving! We've brought something new to the table, our list of the Top 40 college football prospects among high school juniors, 20 each from N.C. and S.C.

Also, don't forget our database of more than 800 potential recruits from the Carolinas, or our Top 25 in N.C. and Top 25 in S.C. for this year's seniors. Those rankings will both update on Christmas Day, both in The Observer and online.

--Stan Olson

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On Thanksgiving Day: The juniors are coming

Check out Thursday’s Charlotte Observer; we’ll have our first-ever ranking of Carolinas’ juniors as college prospects. With the help of prep writer friends, recruiting service buddies and high school coaches, I’ve ranked the Top 20 for North and for South Carolina, and also included a sleeper prospect for each state.

This bunch will serve as the foundation for next season’s North and
South Carolinas’ Top 25 for the Class of 2011.

Of course, it’s far from an exact science. Some players have already peaked as juniors; some we’ve never heard of now will burst on the scene next year. If you have a favorite junior I’ve missed, he may turn out to be good enough to make our senior list anyway.

By the way, if you are out of our circulation area, my lists will be online at on Friday.

And finally, everyone have a happy and fulfilling Thanksgiving. I’ll personally be thankful if I don’t gain 2 or 3 percent body fat—I’m sure that would push my 40 time from 6.1 to 6.3…

--Stan Olson.

Tar Heels land highly regarded tight end Smith

North Carolina has received the commitment of highly-rated tight end Alex Smith of Lakota West High in West Chester, Ohio, he announced on a media teleconference this morning from his school.

Smith, who is 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, fills a major need for the Tar Heels, who did not sign a TE in their 2009 class. He is considered one of the top tight ends in the country by the major recruiting web sites.

He originally committed to
Cincinnati, but began considering his switch after visiting Chapel Hill for the Tar Heels’ recent victory over Miami.

Smith had more than 20 offers, including
Miami, Michigan, South Carolina, LSU, Wisconsin and Kentucky.

Zack Pianalto and Ed Barham, the team’s current TEs, will be seniors next season. UNC already has one committed player at the position for the class of 2010, Sean Fitzpatrick.

Smith finished his senior season with 23 receptions for 411 yards and four TDs.

--Stan Olson

Monday, November 23, 2009

Minter: Watch out for First Assembly in 2010

Since the Eagles finished 13-0 and won the Division II NCSIAA state title Saturday night, it’s hard to see how First Assembly Christian can get better. But coach Mike Minter sees it happening.

“Keep this down low,” Minter said with a laugh a few minutes ago. “I don’t want Charlotte Christian and Charlotte Latin to know what’s going on. But we’ve got about 15 or 20 good football players who want to transfer in here.

“Next year, our offensive line could average 6-foot-3 and 285 pounds if everything works out. Just wait.”

Minter already has a bunch of underclassmen worth keeping an eye on. In particular, watch junior OG Christian Little, a 6-5, 315-pound load who also smothered opposing teams’ running games at DT when needed.

And there is junior CB Tyler Ryan, who runs a 4.5 40, is a shutdown corner and had seven interceptions—tops in the division—this season.

*Don’t forget the seniors, guys like DT Ainsley Miller, S/RB/QB Brandon Stegall and QB David Larson, offered enough potential that recruiters from Clemson, Duke, Virginia, West Virginia and The Citadel were on hand to watch the title game, Minter said.“Now I’ve got to get information on my seniors out to more schools.”

--Stan Olson

Gamecocks land Duncan Byrnes WR Nick Jones

Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes’ Nick Jones, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound wide receiver who is one of the faster players in the state, committed to South Carolina Sunday, according to several sources.

He was also offered by Auburn, Michigan, Northern Illinois and Georgia Southern.

Despite missing a big chunk of the early season with an injured knee, Jones is finishing strong as Byrnes goes for another state championship.

Look for the Gamecocks to use Jones, whose 40-yard dash time has been variously listed from 4.3 seconds to 4.45, as a slot receiver.

--Stan Olson

Got recruiting info--visits, offers, commitments? Email me at

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Crimson Tide's offer gives LeMay 17; Oregon next?

In case you missed it in Saturday’s Observer, Butler junior quarterback Christian LeMay was offered a scholarship Friday by Alabama, giving him 17 offers so far.

“I talked to (Alabama coach Nick) Saban, and he said the official should be in the mail,” LeMay said after Friday’s playoff win over West Forsyth.

also had assistant coach Curt Cignetti in the stands, watching LeMay and the Bulldogs perform.

Asked who he thought might offer next,” LeMay said, “Oregon—I don’t know if that’s official yet; they said they were going to check my grades and everything, and the offer should be coming.”

Count on it. From all I can determine, LeMay has no problems in that area, and will be one of the most highly recruited QBs in the nation next season.

--Stan Olson

Pirates offer Butler DB Bridges: More to come?

Undefeated Butler might have more FBS-caliber prospects than any school in the state, and because of that, 5-foot-11, 185-pound defensive back Mark Bridges may have flown under the radar. Until recently, his only offer was from Central Michigan.

But Bridges is one of those players who has a nose for the ball and great instincts, along with 4.5-second speed in the 40-yard dash, and more and more schools are starting to notice.

I caught up with him as he left the field following Butler’s 70-16 playoff burial of West Forsyth Friday night, and when I asked him about his recruiting, he broke into a wide grin.

“I got an offer from East Carolina this week,” he said. “I’ve been hearing from Alabama; I’m starting to hear from Duke; Oregon a lot. Georgia Tech; I’ve been hearing from Georgia Tech a lot too.”

This weekend, Bridges is visiting East Carolina.

Before he leaves Butler, expect Bridges to be a top regional recruit for sure, and possibly a national target as well.

--Stan Olson

Remember, get your junior nominations to me by Monday at The Observer's Top Junior Prospects lists for the Carolinas will run Thanksgiving Day.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Folks, junior quarterbacks are falling from the trees

On Thanksgiving, The Observer will publish its first rankings of the Carolinas’ top juniors. These are the players who will dominate our Top 50 Carolinas’ prospects list in 2010—the Class of 2011.

It’s been tough to trim this group down—we may go with 20 in each state for now—but I’m pumped about the level of junior talent in both states. Particularly at the quarterback position; the two states are loaded with guys who will step under center at the Division I level. QBs are literally all over the place.

If you have a recommendation, holler at me at Do it quickly, I’m going to finish the list by Monday. Right now, time to get ready for a little playoff football, over at Butler.

--Stan Olson

Mommas, let your sons grow up to be L-snappers

You don’t have to be particularly athletic; you simply have to be able to snap the football directly to the holder or punter squatting or standing more than a few yards behind. And you need to do so consistently and accurately.

The guys who do can find themselves with college scholarships and later, in a few lucky cases, in the NFL (see Jason Kyle).

I talk to coach after coach on the high school level who sees long-snapping as a key to the advancement of one of his players. This morning it was York Comprehensive High’s Luke Niggard.

We were adding his players to the database when Niggard brought up senior Michael Dover, a 6-foot, 180-pound TE. Now, I can tell you there is minimal demand for 6-foot TEs in college, but Niggard had more to say.

“He’s also a long-snapper and that’s his forte,” the coach said. “Newberry is looking at him seriously for that. Colleges are always looking for good long snappers.”

Which means guys, so what if you run a 5.4-second 40-yard dash? Long-snapping requires no running at all, and the scholarship it may bring is just as valuable.

--Stan Olson

Got recruiting info--visits, offers or commitments? Email me at

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gamecocks making inroads with N.C. standout?

West Iredell High defensive back P.J. Clyburn is planning an official visit South Carolina for the Clemson game Nov. 28. That will be the first of four official visits he’s arranging—the others will be to East Carolina, North Carolina and Illinois.

Clyburn, who will likely be a safety in college given his 6-foot-2, 205-pound size, hasn’t been offered by the Gamecocks but that could be coming soon. He has good speed for his size and also played WR this season.

"He can do it all in any aspect of the game," West Iredell coach Mark Weyker said. "He's football-fast, football-quick. He'll take a 10-yard gain and turn it into a 60-yard play."

--Stan Olson

Seven-foot center commits to N.C. State

Joseph Uchebo, a 7-foot, 240-pound center who’s originally from Nigeria, has made an early commitment to N.C. State.

Uchebo is a sophomore at Oak Ridge (N.C.) Military Academy and played last season at Mount Zion Academy in Durham. Oak Ridge coach Stan Kowalewski said Uchebo runs the floor well, has good passing ability and vision, and can score from 18 feet.

“He’s very aggressive going after the basketball coming off the rim,” Kowalewski said, “but he’s not just a back-to-the-basket big man.”

Uchebo has committed so early that it’s difficult for analysts to predict how good he might become. national recruiting analyst Dave Telep has seen him play just one time.

Telep was impressed with Uchebo’s intensity and said that it appears he will be a high-level prospect at this point, but felt uncomfortable commenting more on a player he hasn’t seen multiple times.

Kowalewski said Uchebo likes N.C. State because he has family in the Raleigh/Durham area and felt comfortable with Sidney Lowe and the Wolfpack coaches. According to Kowalewski, Uchebo believes that committing early will reduce the pressure of recruiting and help him focus on school work.

“He’s a great kid, a very good player, very skilled,” Kowalewski said. “I think he can play in the ACC right away once he gets there.

Ken Tysiac

Wolfpack, ACC recruiting is rising on Rivals

Our standard for discerning the national rankings of our area schools is normally, but sometimes the contrast with can be interesting.

We gave you Scout’s current take on the ACC earlier this week—Miami’s Class of 2010 was No.9 nationally but the next ACC school didn’t pop up until No.24, with Clemson.

Rivals, though, has four ACC members among its top 22 classes—Miami leading here as well at No.12, followed by Virginia Tech (18), Clemson (21) and N.C. State (22).

Coach Tom O’Brien’s Wolfpack is also a respectable 31st on Scout, and NCSU has had the strongest in-state recruiting season of any of N.C.’s five major universities.

Where does Rivals rank the other Carolinas’ programs?

South Carolina of the SEC is No.30, followed by North Carolina (36), Wake Forest (53), Duke (57) and Conference USA’s East Carolina (81).

--Stan Olson

Check out Elizabeth City freshman Raekwon Harney; after all, everyone else will

It’s not that unusual when a backup quarterback fills in for an injured starter for one game. It’s a bit more unusual when he throws for three touchdowns and over 200 yards, and runs for 100 more. And it’s, well, exceedingly rare when the fill-in QB who does that well is a freshman.

But that’s what Elizabeth City ninth-grader Raekwon Harney did in his varsity debut this season. Then it was back to the junior varsity, where he finished the season leading an undefeated team and accounting for (passing and running) 30 TDs.

“That wasn’t a surprise; he hasn’t lost a game since the sixth grade,” said varsity coach Antonio Moore. “In middle school, his team only failed to score on four possessions all year.”

Harney is already 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds, and already one of the fastest players in the program.

“He’s also quick, and the type of player who can stop on a dime,” Moore said. “You give him the ball and they just can’t touch him.”

Don’t expect Harney to start at QB for the varsity next year; the school already has a quality player at the position in 6-5 junior Terry Williams. “Raekwon will push him, though,” said Moore, who will likely use Harney at another skill position while he waits to move under center.

Making things more interesting is the fact that Harney is also a remarkable basketball point guard; already a starter and a kid Moore believes will average 20 points a game.

Of course, as a freshman, it’s a bit early for the recruiters to be looking at him, right?

“Are you kidding?” Moore said. “They’re looking at him now.”

--Stan Olson Send me your football recruiting news at

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hibriten's Darius Lipford to look at Tar Heels, Gamecocks, Clemson and Cavaliers

Lenoir Hibriten OLB/WR Darius Lipford, one of the state’s top prospects, has been committed to Duke for a long time, but now he’s likely to take visits to North Carolina, South Carolina, Clemson and Virginia.

“I’m pretty sure he’ll go visit those places,” Hibriten coach Chuck Cannon said moments ago. “He’ll still likely end up at Duke, but I’m uncomfortable with kids committing too early.

“They need to go see what’s out there.”

Asked what position the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Lipford will play in college, Cannon said, “Anywhere he wants to—linebacker, tight end, defensive end. “He’s got an arm span like a 6-11 kid, and the frame to bulk up to 270 or 280 pounds.”

Lipford is also a remarkable athlete, voted the MVP of last year’s basketball team. He’s also a high jumper in track who has approached 7 feet.

As Lipford lines up his trips, the Blue Devils have to be sweating just a bit over his travels. After all, they recently lost committed LB Aramide Olaniyan of Woodberry Forest, Va., to UCLA.

--Stan Olson

The youngest phenom we’ve blogged about

Normally, I don’t mention ninth graders in this blog. There’s too much uncertainty, and the chances of an impressive freshman morphing into a great senior recruit aren’t all that good. I’m going to make an exception for Qadry Cobb.

Qadry is 14 and a 6-foot-3, 260-pound freshman offensive/defensive tackle at York Comprehensive High. He already runs a 5.0-second 40-yard dash and bench-presses 250 pounds.

He got some work on both sides of the ball this season for the varsity and jayvee teams. And, according to his dad David, an assistant coach (the head coach resigned following the season) told him he would be starting on the offensive line as a sophomore.

“He has been to the (South Carolina coach) Steve Spurrier football camp and won the punting trophy for his age group and came in second in the football throw,” David wrote. “Our family doctors projected him to grow to around 6-6."

Qadry also plays for the ninth grade basketball team and participates in track. He hopes to eventually play football at an SEC school or possibly Texas or Ohio State.
Sounds like someone to keep an eye on. And that the Carolinas’ schools better think about eventually changing someone’s mind.

--Stan Olson

Got recruiting info? Pop it to me at

Miami's Hurricanes blowing ACC's doors off

We thought it was time to check in with our boys at and take a quick run through their Class of 2010 football recruiting rankings. They start and end with Miami, despite the fact that the Hurricanes haven’t had the best of seasons.

Miami is easily the league’s recruiting leader for the class that will sign on Feb. 3. The ‘Canes are ranked No.9 nationally (behind five straight SEC squads), far ahead of the ACC’s next offering, Clemson at No.24. It remains to be seen whether North Carolina’s home victory over Miami on a big recruiting weekend eventually helps to trim that margin.

Right now, the Tar Heels are a lackluster 39th on the list—although keep in mind the fact that they are only taking 19 players after a huge class last year. But also remember that they would not be as high as 39 if not for OG Johnnie Farms, one of their two four-star commitments. Farms actually committed to North Carolina’s 2009 class and contributed to its high rating, but didn’t qualify and attended prep school. He’s now recommitted and apparently now UNC gets to count him again.

That said, Tar Heels coach Butch Davis has a reputation as a closer, and North Carolina will likely climb from its current spot.

N.C. State, which has had its best in-state recruiting season in years, is 31st overall. Wake Forest, which struggled early, has gradually improved its class and is a slot ahead of UNC at No.38. And Duke, which started fast, has cooled off a bit and is rated 57th.

And the rest of the ACC? Virginia Tech is just behind Clemson at 26th. Other non-Carolinas’ league members rank as follows: Florida State (33), Georgia Tech (36), Boston College (37), Maryland (50) and Virginia (74).

--Stan Olson

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Football Recruiting Database 4.0 up & running

We keep improving this sucker; a bunch more teams added since 3.0, and we’re up to 813 players. I plan to be over 1,000 by the new year. If you see inaccuracies, email me at and we’ll correct them for our next FRD edition.

The cool thing about this is that for every school I contact, there seems to be at least one remarkably interesting story. Today I talked to Watauga High coach Tim Pruitt, and he told me about massive junior OT Aaron Walker, whose goal is to become a welder and whose target is the Newport News Apprentice school, or the Shipbuilders, as they are known on athletic fields.

Of course, if bigger schools decide he’s a keeper, that could change things. “He could always learn welding afterward,” Pruitt said.

Stay tuned; the next FRD (maybe we should call it “Fred”) isn’t that far off. If you know of a missing school or player—and at this point there are many—let me know.

--Stan Olson

LB Parker looks more and more like a Gamecock

Beaufort (S.C.) LB Justin Parker, who has received about 20 offers from major schools, is tiring of the recruiting process and has narrowed his choices to South Carolina and Clemson, according to several sources.

Parker, a bit under 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, is ranked No.12 on The Observer’s Top 25 SC prospects list. He may visit Clemson this weekend after having an excellent trip to Columbia last weekend.

LSU had been No.3 on his list, and he also considered schools like N.C. State and Tennessee. But Parker, according to one source, is getting tired of the recruiting process and is expected to choose between the in-state schools, possibly after the Clemson at South Carolina contest, which he plans to attend.

Parker, who has 4.62-second speed in the 40-yard dash, had 140 tackles—including seven sacks—this season.

--Stan Olson

Add Watauga’s Jordan Pineda as a junior to watch

I just got off the phone with Watauga High coach Tim Pruitt, whose undermanned but scrappy team made it to the playoffs before falling in the first round, and he mentioned a name worth tracking—Jordan Pineda.

We’re hunting down juniors for our first-ever Carolinas juniors Top 50 (feel free to help), and Pineda has added his name to the watchlist for that. Others have been impressed as well; he’s been invited to the Army All-American game underclassmen’s combine in San Antonio in January.

Pruitt is 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, and after a fine junior season, is already drawing attention, with letters coming from as far away as UCLA. He finished with 75 tackles, including 23 TFL and 11 sacks.

Because of depth problems, Pineda also played TE.

One of the team’s stronger players, he also finished sixth in the state in the discus as a sophomore.

“He’s a tremendous athlete, but he also has a great motor,” Pruitt said. “He plays hard on every snap.”

Pineda was an all-conference choice for the second straight year.

--Stan Olson

I'm also adding Watauga's prospects to our Football Recuiting Database. If your school isn't in there yet (and many aren't) email me a contact number for your coach and I'll see what I can do. It's

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gamecocks' Gerald Dixon produces two more GDs

Some of you may remember South Carolina Gerald Dixon, who starred for the Gamecocks at linebacker and played in the NFL.

also had two sons—by different mothers and five months apart—and named each of them Gerald. Both of the sons got dad’s genes, and are highly recruited juniors in the Rock Hill area.

The Rock Hill South Pointe Gerald Dixon is 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, a dominant DE. The Rock Hill Northwestern Gerald Dixon is 6-4 and 290 pounds, and should be a force at DT.

With daddy Gerald often taking the younger Geralds to Columbia for Gamecocks’ games—any of this remind you of George ForemanSouth Carolina has to be considered the early leader for both “little Geralds.”

Look for one or possibly both on our first-ever SC Top 25 Junior Prospects list, coming Thanksgiving Day. And not a turkey in the bunch.

--Stan Olson

New recruiting database should be up this week

We’re trying to find final stats for a number of players; if you have them, pop them to me. And we’re just about to push our total players in the database over 800.

Right now, though, I’m primarily working on a list of the Top 50 junior prospects in the Carolinas, 25 from each state. These rankings will be published Thanksgiving Day, and the players involved will eventually make up much of our Top 50 Class of 2011 lists next season.

If you know of a deserving junior, let me know at

The final 2010 list will be published around Feb.3, National Signing Day for college football.

*I had someone ask me, what “all levels” means in the database’s “considering (schools)” category. Basically, that we haven’t figured out the level of college competition the player will be able to handle yet, but that at this time, he appears to have the potential to play at the highest level (BCS schools). That potential, though, must be converted to on-field skills for that to happen.

--Stan Olson

Gamecocks pass Tar Heels in Brantley's eyes

Our guy Tehvyn Brantley, whom we tracked throughout the summer as he made a nationwide tour of summer camps, was at South Carolina on an unofficial visit for the Gamecocks’ battle with Florida.

Now his dad Leroy says South Carolina has passed North Carolina and taken the No.1 position, as far as Tehvyn is concerned.

“We had a great time Saturday,” Leroy said. “That atmosphere, with 80,000 people screaming, was unbelievable. South Carolina has the big boys, they just lack playmakers. And Tehvyn is a playmaker.”

He was at Durham Mt. Zion this season, and finished with 26 TDs and 2,400 all-purpose yards after being shifted from wide receiver to QB at midseason.

North Carolina
has offered, and supposedly as a spot left for Brantley, according to his dad. South Carolina has verbally offered, and is supposed to make that official after receiving his transcript today.

“Other schools are asking for film as well; Oregon State, UCLA, some others,” Leroy said. “But right now, South Carolina is definitely No.1.”

--Stan Olson

Got recruiting goodies--offers, visits, commits? I want '

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Barnes was Williams' 'toughest' recruiting job

CHAPEL HILL -- When it comes to technology, North Carolina coach Roy Williams isn't exactly what you would call an early adopter. To please recruit Harrison Barnes, Williams was willing to exit his comfort zone.

Barnes announced his decision Friday via Skype, which Williams had used in the past to connect with his son in London, but only a handful of times.

"I can stand there and sit there and talk, but if you expect me to set it up, there's no way I could do that," Williams said Saturday at halftime of North Carolina's football game against Miami.

Barnes, who chose the Tar Heels over Duke and four other schools Friday, becomes the centerpiece of an elite recruiting class that also includes Kinston's Reggie Bullock. The 6-foot-6 forward from Ames, Iowa, is rated the No. 1 prospect in the country by

Williams said the 16-month wooing of Barnes was the most diligently he has ever successfully recruited a single player in his career, at Kansas or North Carolina.

"I told him I recruited him harder than any player I've coached," Williams said. "I always felt Raef (LaFrentz) was the toughest, but now it's Harrison."

And why put in all that effort?

"You have to say everything," Williams said when asked what he liked about Barnes. "He's a great student. He's a big-time player. He's very focused. He has a tremendous amount of self-discipline. He's very talented. He's got a pretty good package to say the least."

Williams said he had an inkling Barnes would choose the Tar Heels when the family told him to set up the Skype connection -- which was handled by assistant coach Steve Robinson and video coordinator Eric Hoots -- but didn't know if he was the only coach online or all six would-be coaches were connected.

"When he said 'I'm going to go over and Skype the coach,' and his face showed up on our computer, it was a pretty good feeling," Williams said. -- Luke DeCock

Friday, November 13, 2009

Barnes goes high-tech in picking UNC

In front of an anxious crowd at his high school and a national TV audience on ESPN-U Friday afternoon, top-ranked recruit Harrison Barnes walked over to a laptop to connect by video conference to the coach whose school he planned to sign with.

After an awkward, 70-second pause while the video link was established, coach Roy Williams and the North Carolina team appeared on the projection screen at the gym at Ames High School in Iowa.

Cheers erupted in the gym. Williams explained that he’d gathered the whole team on the Chapel Hill end of the video conference.

“Coach, I know you’re in practice now, and I’ve got to get going on signing my letter of intent here,” Barnes said. “But I just want to let you know that I’ll be joining you next year on the squad. I can’t wait to play with all you guys.”

With the help of the high-tech gadgetry, Barnes announced one of the most highly anticipated recruiting decisions of all time. Barnes, a 6-foot-6 forward rated No. 1 in the Class of 2010 by, also considered Duke, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma and UCLA.

Since birth, though, Barnes has had a sort of North Carolina tie. Before he was born, his mother, Shirley, taped many of former Tar Heel great Michael Jordan’s games with the Chicago Bulls in case she had a son.

When her only son was born, she named him Harrison Bryce-Jordan Barnes. During his visit to North Carolina earlier this fall for the school’s alumni game, Barnes and his family briefly met Jordan, although NCAA rules only allow a short greeting.

But Barnes cited Williams and the current North Carolina players as the reason he chose the Tar Heels.

“I just felt that not only is Coach Williams so good at instructing the game, I just had a great relationship with the players,” Barnes said on ESPN-U.

All-Star Sports recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons said that with Barnes joining shooting guard Reggie Bullock and point guard Kendall Marshall, North Carolina has one of the best recruiting classes in the nation. Gibbons said it’s “a coin toss” between the Tar Heels and Ohio State to decide which school has the No. 1 class.

“I was so impressed watching the whole scenario today including the way he did it with his technical announcement,” Gibbons said. “. . .This kid is advanced and intelligent beyond his years, and I think Roy once again proves he’s the best recruiter not only in the ACC but in the nation. Harrison Barnes will be just a great recruit for North Carolina, and having Kendall Marshall and Reggie Bullock come in alongside him bodes well for the future of the Tar Heels’ program.”

Barnes’ decision was a blow to Duke, which hasn’t been to the Final Four since 2004 while the Tar Heels have been to three Final Fours and won two NCAA titles during that period. Barnes’ commitment could help make this the fourth time in the last five years that North Carolina’s recruiting class has been rated higher than Duke’s by

Gibbons predicted that Duke will try to find another small forward – Oak Hill Academy’s Roscoe Smith - to play with point guard Kyrie Irving, who’s rated as the No. 5 player in the class by Smith, who’s 6-7, is rated the No. 32 player in the nation by and hasn’t committed yet.

Before conferencing in with Williams, Barnes said his decision was difficult because he had so many outstanding options. He said he had grown attached to the coaches at all the schools, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski included.

“Coach Krzyzewski and I have become very close over the last year and a half,” Barnes said. “Duke has high academics and is just unique in a variety of ways.”

But rival North Carolina is going to get Barnes as Williams continues to dominate recruiting in the ACC and across the country.

Ken Tysiac

Top recruit Barnes picks UNC

Highly recruited 6-foot-6 forward Harrison Barnes of Ames, Iowa has committed to North Carolina.

In an announcement at his high school televised by ESPN-U, Barnes told North Carolina coach Roy Williams and the Tar Heel team by video conference that he had selected the Tar Heels.

Barnes has been the subject of incredible scrutiny as the No. 1-ranked player in the class according to On Oct. 5, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and North Carolina coach Roy Williams both visited his house.

Duke, North Carolina, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma and UCLA were the finalists for Barnes.

Having such a high-profile player consider both Duke and North Carolina until the end is nearly unprecedented. Barnes added to the suspense with a disciplined and highly secretive selection process as he methodically visited all six schools.

Ken Tysiac

West Charlotte RB picked for select combine

West Charlotte junior running back Jalen “Scoot” Simmons has been selected to participate in U.S. Army National Combine January 7-9, 2010 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The combine showcases the nation’s best underclass football talent and is part of the week-long festivities that lead up to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on January 9.

“It’s a great honor for him, and we’re really pleased,” Lions coach Jeff Simpson said today. “He’s had a difficult junior year because of nagging injuries—a hamstring, groin and hip flexor—and so he doesn’t have great stats, but he’s only missed one game.

"Now, after our season, we hope he can recover from the bumps and bruises and get ready to go have a very good combine showing.”

--Stan Olson

Clemson knows how to throw a recruiting party

*The Tigers had almost 100 recruits in town—on official and unofficial visits—for their victory over Florida State last weekend, according to The 40-24 win probably didn’t hurt their chances with many of them. Sounds like a weekend roundup of prime beef, and now they can (metaphorically speaking) start culling the herd.

*The SEC continues to pound the ACC and almost everyone else (The Big 12, with Oklahoma and Texas ranked Nos. 1 and 2 by, might take offense). The problem for the ACC is that it competes on a regular basis with the SEC for players—the Southeastern U.S. is home base for much of each league.

So far, the SEC is winning those battles with regularity; it has collected 22 of Scout’s Top 100 players in the Class of 2010, while the ACC has five. That shows in the overall rankings—the SEC is No.1; the ACC is fifth, also trailing the Big 12, the Big Ten and the Pac-10.

*Just my two cents here, but the SEC should swap South Carolina to the ACC for Miami. Can you imagine placing the Gamecocks in the same division with Clemson? And South Carolina might finally win that elusive division title. The bottom line, though, is that it makes so much geographical sense.

--Stan Olson

Thursday, November 12, 2009

RB Lattimore names Georgia 'Dawgs for final visit

Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes’ Marcus Lattimore, perhaps the nation’s top prep running back, has picked Georgia for his final official visit, he told

Lattimore has already visited Auburn and Penn State, and has scheduled officials to North Carolina and Oregon.

South Carolina remains in the mix—an official visit isn’t necessary since he’s so familiar with the school.

*Hey, it’s not just the national recruits that keep busy schedules of visits; Concord First Assembly RB/QB Brandon Stegall is moving almost as fast on visits as he does on the football field.

On Oct. 31, according to dad Randy, he visited Wofford for the Terriers’ game with Elon. Last weekend, he made two visits on the same Saturday, hitting Catawba in the afternoon and Greensboro College that night. This Saturday, he’ll visit Gardner-Webb for the second time, for its game with Liberty (also on his list).

And Brandon isn’t done; later this month, he’s supposed to take a second trip to N.C. State.

--Stan Olson

Victor Hampton straightened out at Darlington?

You probably remember Independence coach Tom Knotts kicking all-American CB Victor Hampton, then a Florida commitment, off the team last summer. Hampton wound up at Darlington (S.C.) High, where he helped coach Justin Danner’s team reach the first round of the playoffs.

“I think he realized, ‘I could possibly throw away a lot of things I could have had,’” Danner said. “He came to us late and we didn’t know what to expect, but he’s done everything we’ve asked of him.”

When Hampton was booted by the Patriots, the offer from the Gators disappeared. Now, according to Danner, he’s considering Tennessee, South Carolina, Auburn and North Carolina.

“He’s very competitive and that’s something you just can’t teach,” Danner said. “He’s got great quickness.”

Not to mention 4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash. Those attributes prompted the Darlington coaches to use him more and more at RB, and in the playoff loss, he rushed for 113 yards while making nine tackles on defense.

While Danner was unsure of Hampton’s regular-season stats, he said that the player returned two punts for TDs.

Is Hampton’s rehabilitation complete? At this point, as he gets set to visit South Carolina this weekend, that seems likely. Not certain, but likely.

--Stan Olson

Early Tar Heels offer K.J. Brent adding suitors

Marvin Ridge junior wide receiver K.J. Brent came out of North Carolina’s camp last June with an offer from the Tar Heels—forget about seeing him in game action; he was that good in the drills UNC put him through.

Other offers have followed—from East Carolina, Duke and, most recently, South Carolina.

Now, with a junior year’s worth of film under his belt, Brent can expect still more attention.

“In the SEC, Alabama, Georgia and Florida are some of the schools looking at him,” said Marvin Ridge coach Scott Chadwick moments ago. “In the ACC, he’s also hearing from Miami and Maryland.”

Brent, who is 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds, caught 44 passes this season, good for 646 yards and 6 touchdowns.

“Now there’s film and people can see what he can do,” Chadwick said. “He can go up and get the ball wherever it is, and he simply makes some unbelievable catches.”

North Carolina
remains heavily in the mix for Brent; he and teammate Vinnie Sunseri, a highly thought-of LB prospect, are taking unofficial visits to Chapel Hill this weekend for the Miami game.

--Stan Olson

Know of any recruiting visits, offers or commitments? Email me at

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Area kids visit Gamecocks, Tar Heels, Deacons

*Four Butler High juniors—RB Jawaun Edwards, LB/WR Kris Frost, QB Christian LeMay and RB/DB Deion Walker—will take unofficial visits to South Carolina for Saturday’s game with Florida, according to Bulldogs coach Mike Newsome.

“Defensive line coach Cam Mellon is driving them down there,” Newsome said.

*Two other Butler players, seniors Nate Charest (WR/S) and Anthony Short (RB/WR) will visit Coastal Carolina over the weekend.

*Visiting North Carolina unofficially are Marvin Ridge WR K.J. Brent and LB Vinnie Sunseri, both juniors. That was confirmed by coach Scott Chadwick today.

*Also, Monroe Piedmont QB Ross Rushing, who has led his team into the playoffs this season, is visiting Wake Forest unofficially Saturday.

--Stan Olson

Tar Heels to get weekend visits from Willis, Miller

Two of the nation’s top defensive linemen, Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes teammates Brandon Willis and Corey Miller, will take official visits to North Carolina this weekend.

Both players are currently commited to Tennessee, but nothing becomes official until the Feb. 3 National Signing Day.

“The commitment doesn’t obligate them for anything,” said Gary Willis, Brandon’s father, moments ago. “I would advise every kid to take all of his official visits. On the unofficials, they can’t tour the campus or talk to the professors.”

There is a connection here; Gary Willis said he was born and raised in Chapel Hill, and that Brandon’s mother is a graduate.

“The Tar Heels have always been a school Brandon has been interested in,” his dad said.

Prior to this weekend, Brandon Willis’s only official visit had been to Tennessee.

Saturday, Willis and Miller will watch UNC play Miami in Kenan Stadium.
Willis’ final three visits, according to his father, will be to Miami, UCLA and California.

“That will give him a chance to really get to know the schools, and let them spend money on him,” Gary Willis said, laughing.

Willis is ranked No.2 on The Observer's SC Top 25 Prospects list, while Miller is No.6.

--Stan Olson

Appalachian football recruiting is stepping up

Time was, and a recent time it was, when Appalachian State, like every other FCS school (the coaches still call them I-AAs), had to wait until the big boys had finalized their class of commitments before the FCS programs could cull through the leftovers.

Invariably, borderline talents would wait to see if an offer would come from an N.C. State or a Clemson before finally settling for a Furman or an Elon.

The Mountaineers, though, are shaking up that strategy this season, simply by making kids want to come to Boone.

They already have three verbal commitments—all big offensive linemen—after their addition this week of Butler High’s Kendall Lamm. Lamm, at 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds, joins Graham Fisher (6-2, 275) and Kalan Jones (6-4, 275).

All of these players were on the watchlists of some major schools, but decided they’d rather remove the uncertainty and go ahead and commit to coach Jerry Moore’s program.

By doing so, they can be almost certain of three things. They will have a chance to play early ( ASU will have as many as five slots for OLs in its incoming class), play for a national championship, and play in Boone. None of these are bad options.
This kind of thing can snowball. Appalachian, with its three national titles in four years, is in a unique position among FCS schools. Now it’s taking advantage of it.

--Stan Olson

Butler O-Lineman Lamm picks Appalachian State

Appalachian State now has three early commitments, and with the addition of Butler tackle Kendall Lamm following his visit last weekend, all three are economy-size offensive linemen.

Lamm has always been an ASU lean, liking Boone ever since he went to a camp there as a high school freshman. He was also offered by Marshall, Georgia Southern, Norfolk St. and Presbyterian.

I couldn’t reach Butler coach Mike Newsome this morning, but here is some of what Lamm told

“I thought about committing throughout the whole game (against Chattanooga), and every time I'm at App it just feels right. I love Appalachian State so much, and I felt like there was no reason to wait. I committed after they beat Chattanooga. I went with my high school team to an O-line camp at Appalachian when I was a freshman, and I have liked them ever since. It was one of the toughest camps I've been to. They pushed me to my maximum ability - no one else did that.”

Lamm also mentioned how much he liked offensive line coach Shawn Elliott.

We’ll have more on this—and Appalachian’s step up in recruiting—in a post later today.

--Stan Olson

Got recruiting scoop? Pop it to me at

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wolfpack's newest commitment missed 2 years

It wasn’t the fault of Portal (Ga.) High LB/DE/WR Theo Rich—he had missed his sophomore and junior football seasons at Statesboro (Ga.) High with unrelenting sinus headaches.

So he had concentrated on basketball. But finally, with the headaches under control, doctors gave him the okay to play football again, just as he was transferring to little Portal for his senior season.

“I didn’t know who the young man was until he was already enrolled,” Portal coach Justin Chester said a few minutes ago. “He sort of came out of nowhere. Once he took the practice field, though, we all knew we had a blessing.”

Chester said the coaches had to get Rich back on track as far as fundamentals were concerned, but that he improved by leaps and bounds.

As Rich, who is 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds with 4.75-second speed in the 40-yard dash, got better and better, N.C. State began to take notice.

The Wolfpack offered recently, and at that point Georgia State and Buffalo were Rich’s only other offers.

“Theo really liked what he saw with them,” Chester said. “And he really liked the idea of playing in the ACC.”

The Wolfpack will likely use Rich at DE if he grows a bit more, or possibly at LB. But almost certainly on the defensive side of the ball, Chester said.

“For now, he’s getting ready to play basketball for us. That will keep him in shape, and he’ll have some fun as he finishes his senior year.”

--Stan Olson

Got recruiting news? We'll get it in--offers, visits, commitments, etc. I just added Columbia High and Southlake Christian to our Football Database today (they'll be in the next installment).
Email me at

Gamecocks, Tigers…well, just about everyone will be watching this Columbia High sophomore

His name is Casey Gladney. And if the Columbia sophomore WR/DB continues to progress at his current pace, he should be on everyone’s radar next year and a national recruit by the time he’s a senior.

Gladney started at safety as a freshman, then began playing wide receiver when coach Kemper Amick noticed that he was the fastest player on the team in preseason practice this year.

“Eventually we kept him primarily at wide receiver,” Amick said today. “He has tremendous, tremendous hands. If you get it near him, he catches it. It’s like he has Velcro on his hands.”

Amick laughed.

“He made a couple of circus catches early this year—one a one-handed grab while falling down backwards—and that got him into a bad habit of using one hand to catch balls. We had to break him of that.”

Gladney finished the season with nine TD catches and two more rushing, but that barely scrapes the surface of this story.

Late in Columbia’s ninth game, its starting quarterback was injured. With the backup QB already hurt and the third-stringer an offensive lineman , the coaches consulted and put Gladney under center.

“He had never taken a snap in practice, but we were desperate,” Amick said.

Gladney led the team on two long fourth-quarter drives, and although Columbia didn’t score, he impressed everyone.

“He has the strongest arm on the team,” Amick said. “He can throw it as far as you want him to throw it.”

Gladney also is a shooting guard on the basketball team and pitches for the baseball team.

“Pitches, and plays wherever they need him,” Amick said.

Apparently, much like he does in football.

--Stan Olson

Barnes announcement on TV

College basketball fans will be able to see top-ranked basketball recruit Harrison Barnes announce his school decision Friday - if they have ESPN-U.

Officials at Ames High in Iowa, where Barnes is a student, have issued a news release saying Barnes will announce at 4 p.m. Friday.

A 6-foot-6 forward, Barnes is considering Duke, North Carolina, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma and UCLA. He is rated the top prospect in the nation by

Barnes also will sign his letter of intent Friday, according to his mother, Shirley Barnes. The early signing period for college basketball begins Wednesday.

Ken Tysiac

Tar Heels land official visit from all-American DT

All-American defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd has arranged an official visit to North Carolina; he’ll go to Chapel Hill on the weekend of Dec. 11. Which means that you can expect to see him engulfing a seat on the front row in the Dean Dome for the Tar Heels’ basketball game with Presbyterian on Saturday night, Dec. 12.

Floyd, of Philadelphia’s George Washington High, would be a huge (literally, he’s 6-foot-3 and 310 pounds) catch for UNC; he’s a national top 50 prospect on everyone’s list. So far, he has taken official visits to Florida, Ohio State and Southern Cal, and he’s been to Penn State unofficially.

South Carolina
is also in the running for Floyd, who has not said he has a leader at this point. And the Gamecocks remain the favorite to get his fifth and final official trip. He hopes to announce his choice at the Army All-American Game in January.

--Stan Olson

Monday, November 9, 2009

Charlotte Christian's Blazevich picks VMI

Charlotte Christian RB Parker Blazevich has accepted a scholarship offer from VMI, Christian coach Jason Estep said today.

“He could play at other schools, but he has a strong military interest; he wants to serve his country,” Estep said. “Parker is a great player with a great work ethic. He will be a great addition to the program at VMI.”

Blazevich is a blazer. He’s 6-foot and 185 pounds, and has been clocked at 4.52 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Primarily a blocker this season, Blazevich has been a key to the Knights’ 8-2 season, rushing for 191 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Blazevich was also attracting serious interest from The Citadel, along with attention Army and Air Force.

“But when VMI offered, that was what he wanted,” Estep said.

--Stan Olson

Know of a commitment, offer or visit? email me at

Allen picks Crimson Tide over Clemson, Oregon

Northern Guilford wide receiver/safety Keenan Allen has chosen Alabama over Clemson and Oregon.

“The biggest reason was the coaches,” Allen’s dad Scott Lang said a moment ago. “(Assistant coach) Bo Davis followed up after his visit and checked on him all the time. There was no pressure at all, but Keenan just really liked him and the other Alabama coaches.”

Allen, ranked No.2 on The Observer’s Top 25 NC Prospects list, is perhaps the best pure athlete in the Carolinas.

Check out these numbers, straight from Northern Guilford coach Johnny Roscoe, who also used Allen part-time at RB:

“He had 15 rushing touchdowns, 11 receiving, three on punt returns, two on interceptions an one on a kickoff, for a total of 32. For what it’s worth, he also had six two-point conversions.

“On defense, he was over 90 tackles with six interceptions—four of those went for touchdowns. He also had three tackles for loss, two caused fumbles, one recovered fumble and a sack.”

Alabama plans to use Allen at WR, so I asked Roscoe if he thought that would be Allen’s best college position.

“He’s one of the very few players who can play wherever he wants in college,” Roscoe said. “He’s got that kind of ability.”

Allen led Northern Guilford into the playoffs with a 10-1 record.

“As good as he is, I like him better as a person than a player,” Roscoe said.
“Alabama is getting a player who will help their team, because he’s a team player first.”

While we mentioned his three finalists, Allen had “30, maybe 35 offers,” said Lang.

“Everybody offered him. North Carolina and N.C. State were in there; we visited and talked to some great coaches at those places.”

Finally, though, the Crimson Tide rolled over the rest of the contenders.

--Stan Olson

Greensboro safety Amerson picks N.C. State

The future of N.C. State's struggling defensive backfield became a bit brighter with the commitment of safety David Amerson of Dudley High in Greensboro.

Amerson, who's 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, chose N.C. State over Notre Dame according to Dudley coach Steven Davis. He intercepted nine passes last season as a junior, but Davis did not have updated statistics for 2009.

Davis said Amerson will play free safety in college. The Charlotte Observer ranks Amerson as the 13th-best player in the Class of 2010 in North Carolina.

"He's a very intelligent player," Davis said. "He's got the athletic ability to go with it, but he does a good job of anticipating the play before it happens."

Ken Tysiac

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Top recruit Barnes to announce Friday

Let the anticipation build.

Fans of Duke, North Carolina and four other schools that remain finalists for the services of top-ranked recruit Harrison Barnes of Ames, Iowa, will learn his decision Friday.

Shirley Barnes, the player's mother, said in an e-mail that Barnes will announce his school choice Friday. No decision has been made on a possible broadcast of the announcement.

Barnes spent the final weekend before his announcement on an unofficial visit to his hometown school, Iowa State, his mother said. Shirley Barnes works in the music department at Iowa State.

A 6-foot-6 forward, Barnes is rated the top recruit in the nation by In alphabetical order, his finalists are Duke, Iowa State, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma and UCLA.

If Barnes has any preferences, he has hidden them from the public in a recruiting process that's been expertly and carefully guided by his mother. The competition for his services has been so intense that earlier this fall Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and North Carolina coach Roy Williams visited his home on the same day.

By announcing Friday, Barnes will adhere to a schedule he set long ago, when he told Ames High coach Vance Downs that he wanted the decision made by the time his high school team begins practice Nov. 16.

"The process for him has been very methodical," Downs said before Barnes visited Duke in October. "He's just very patient, takes his time, looks at all his options and then will eventually find the right fit for him."

Ken Tysiac

Friday, November 6, 2009

Wake Forest receives DL/OL commitment

The Demon Deacons have landed 6-foot-3, 260-pound lineman Antonio Ford of Pahokee (Fla.) High. There’s a connection there; Wake already has two former Pahokee players on its roster.

“He really liked Wake,” said Pahokee coach Blaze Thompson moments ago. “And Antonio is a very hard-working, very respectful young man with a lot of potential.

Ford chose the Deacons over West Virginia and Oklahoma State, each of whom had also offered.

He also had offers from Louisville, Minnesota, Purdue and South Florida.
Wake is expected to use Ford, who has excellent 4.85-second speed in the 40-yard dash, on the defensive line.

“I think he would be good at guard or center in college,” Thompson said. “But he also should be an excellent defensive lineman there.”

--Stan Olson

Carolinas' juniors: So who will be No.1 in SC, NC?

There are plenty of candidates, and our first-ever juniors ranking is currently scheduled for Thanksgiving Day. We originally planned to put this first list of the 25 best in each of North and South Carolina in alphabetical order, but I’m thinking about going rogue and ranking them by number, even though it’s so early and bound to change.

But trying to make numerical sense of this mishmash will also make it fun. We can debate it all winter. So I’ll do that—unless I chicken out.

Right now, S.C.’s No.1 junior is almost sure to be Rock Hill South Pointe DE Jadeveon Clowney, a 6-foot-6 beast who is almost unstoppable. While there are other candidates, they will have to make great strides to catch him by Thanksgiving.

In N.C., there seem to be several viable choices, starting with Butler QB Christian LeMay. Check out this stat: LeMay has thrown 25 TD passes so far—with one interception. I’ve seen him a bunch this season, and he’s legit.

But he isn’t a lock; Wadesboro Anson LB Stephone Anthony is also drawing national attention and could turn out to be The Man in the state. Or it might be Norkeithus Otis, the rapidly-improving LB at Gastonia Ashbrook.

Anyway, it will be fun. I’ve always said that guys like lists, and alphabetical order lists take no chances; they’re boring.

Feel free to toss in your thoughts on No.1.

--Stan Olson

Got any scoop on visits, offers or commitments? Email me at

Weddington Top 25 pick Kilgo chooses Terps

Darius Kilgo, Weddington’s 6-foot-3, 285-pound defensive tackle/offensive tackle, has committed to Maryland over his other two finalists, Michigan State and East Carolina.

“He was really pumped about it,” said Weddington coach Justin Hardin moments ago. “He feels really comfortable with Maryland and the way they recruited him. Other schools would pop in and out, but they were always talking to him, staying consistent through the whole procedure. They were one of the first schools to offer, and they talked to him a lot.”

Hardin said Kilgo had “about nine” total offers.

Kilgo currently has 50 tackles, including 10 for losses and two sacks. On offense, he’s allowed one sack.

“He lost about 40 pounds since last year, and he’s playing his best football now,” Hardin said. “He’s so confident; you can just see it in him when he’s walking the halls. He looks phenomenal.”

Hardin isn’t certain how the Terrapins will use Kilgo, who is ranked 24th on The Observer’s N.C. Top 25 Prospects list. But he has some ideas of his own.

“I think he’s an offensive guard in college,” Hardin said. “He may not be as quick as he needs to be at defensive tackle, but he’s fast enough and athletic enough to play guard. And at guard, one day he could be playing on Sundays.”

--Stan Olson

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gamecocks, Pirates interested in Byrnes tight end

Our buddy and S.C. recruiting expert Phil Kornblut tells us that both South Carolina and East Carolina are now showing interest in one of Duncan (S.C.) Byrnes High’s unsung heroes. While Marcus Lattimore and six or seven other players have gotten most of the attention at the national powerhouse, 6-foot-6, 220-pound senior TE Craig Weick is finally starting to draw some attention.

Byrnes assistant coach Bobby Bentley said Gamecocks recruiter Jay Graham contacted Bentley Tuesday after viewing film to stress his interest in the player.

So far this season, Weick, who is athletic for his size, has 21 receptions for 398 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Offers may follow soon.

--Stan Olson

North-South game raids our S.C. Top 25 rankings

I mentioned a few blogs back that with the South Carolina Shrine Bowl coaches selecting just 14 members of The Observer’s S.C. Top 25 Prospects list, you could look for the state’s annual North-South game to quickly grab up most of the remaining 11.

Geography favored the South squad, and in a big way. The North was able to claim just two of our 25, grabbing No.2 Brandon Willis of Duncan Byrnes and No.15 Joe Craig of Clemson.

The South, on the other hand, picked up five Top 25 kids—No.4 Eric Mack of Calhoun Co., No.10 Dexter Morant of Manning, No.13 Marques Pair of Sumter, No.22 Ricky Chaney of Beaufort Battery Creek and No.25 Jerrell Priester of Allendale Fairfax.

Which still meant that four members of our list made neither all-star game.

Remember, the coaches don’t base their selections on whether or not kids will develop into good college players, which is what our list is all about. They want two things—players who fit into their schemes and who had good senior seasons.

Perhaps the guy most unfairly excluded was No.23 Nick Jones, a receiver/kick returner at Byrnes. He’s a remarkable talent, but neither game can take more than two players from a single school, and both grabbed their Byrnes’ allotment before getting to Jones.

Injuries can also play a part; Anderson Hanna’s Jake Nicolopulos (No.24) missed a month with a back injury, and was likely excluded because of that.
Also not taken were No.14 Kendrick Frazier of Denmark-Olar and No.18 Kalon Davis of Chester. You’ll have to ask the coaches about them.

--Stan Olson

So is Tar Heels’ commitment Price really a 4.3?

New North Carolina commitment Jabari Price—you know, the Pompano Beach (Fla.) Ely CB—who just switched from Minnesota—called me back last night, and one of the first things I asked him was whether he really had 4.3-second speed in the 40-yard dash, the rather spectacular figure his coach had offered on Wednesday.

“Yeah, I ran a 4.3 last summer, at a Broward County (Fla.) camp,” Price said. “It was exactly 4.39.” Well, I would round that off to 4.4, but who’s quibbling? It’s still extraordinarily fast.

Asked about his switch to Chapel Hill, Price, who visited North Carolina last weekend, said, “It had more proximity to home, where my friends and family could get there to see my games easier. And the coaching staff really made me feel good about them as people.”

He said he went home and back to school, and spent the whole day thinking about his decision rather than classwork.

“Tuesday night I made up my mind for good,” Price said.

He doesn’t plan to take any more visits.

As far as playing time, Price thinks he might see some action as a true freshman.

“At corner, they have two juniors and two seniors,” he said. “If I don’t play next year, I could easily see myself red-shirting and coming back to play after that.”

--Stan Olson

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Tar Heel commit Price a big-time burner

I finally got some stuff from Pompano (Fla.) Ely coach Rodney Gray on CB Jabari Price, who switched his commitment from Minnesota to North Carolina after visiting Chapel Hill last weekend.

Gray said that he considers Price a shutdown corner.

“He takes care of his side of the field,” Gray said. “Once he takes that side of the field, we’re able to establish our game plan. “He’s strong and he’s rangy.

“He’s in our offensive package also, but we’ve had no need to play him there.”

Gray said Price, who is 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, has legitimate 4.3-second speed in the 40-yard dash, and is a key to the school’s 4X100 relay team.

Ely is a powerhouse, off to an 8-0 start in Class 5A competition. Price has 30 tackles, two interceptions and eight pass breakups.

He is the Tar Heels’ 12th commitment.

--Stan Olson

Watch North-South coaches pick off Top 25 players

With the state of North Carolina having more than twice the population of South Carolina, it seems odd that S.C. has such a significant winning margin in the Shrine Bowl (40-27-4). The North-South Game makes it odder still.

After the S.C. Shrine coaches select their rosters, coaches for the North and South teams cull through the leavings, and there are often some very good leavings.

A case in point is South Carolina commitment Eric Mack, No.4 on our S.C. Top 25 Prospects list but not on the Shrine roster, because the coaches are believed to have wanted smaller, quicker linemen.

That means he’ll almost certainly play in the Myrtle Beach game on Dec. 12 instead.

And he’ll be unavailable should any Shrine team members get hurt, which happens to at least a couple each year.

North Carolina
has no such game grabbing the next 90 or so players.

“It’s a disadvantage for us,” says S.C. head coach Lewis Lineberger. “It makes it awful tough when it comes to getting replacement players. But that’s just the way it is.”

And somehow, some way, South Carolina continues to beat N.C. with regularity.

I have a nagging feeling that prep football is a bigger deal south of our border—North Carolina is considered by many to be a basketball state (look at all those collegiate national titles), and there may be something to that.

--Stan Olson

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