Thursday, February 21, 2008

Davis' revamped strategy brings Heels a pack of underclassmen

On national signing day this month, North Carolina coach Butch Davis indicated he was changing his recruiting strategy for future classes.

He said the dynamics of recruiting had changed significantly in the six years between the time he rebuilt Miami into a national title contender and accepted the North Carolina job. Players were committing to schools a lot earlier, and Davis had to adjust. Two weeks later, it’s obvious that he has.

North Carolina has seven commitments for the Class of 2009, including receiver Joshua Adams of Cheshire, Conn., who could be ranked in the national top 100. Four of those commitments came from North Carolina, which Davis had said is his top focus in recruiting but yielded just five Class of 2008 signees for the Tar Heels.

Davis estimated that 60 percent of January’s recruiting was spent on underclassmen, and the results appear to be paying off. He said North Carolina might have been 18 months behind in recruiting a year ago, but hoped to be caught up by May.

"We’re gaining ground quickly," he said.

N.C. State’s Tom O’Brien established himself as a formidable rival for Davis during their first full recruiting cycle at their respective schools. O’Brien’s recruiting operation is well organized and impresses serious-minded prospects with its emphasis on academics and discipline.

O’Brien immediately made establishing relationships with North Carolina high school coaches a priority. He has extensive ties in the Virginia Beach area, which is teeming with recruits, because he worked that area as an assistant coach for Virginia. He was extremely successful using N.C. State’s football camps as a recruiting tool last summer, locking up some of the state’s top prospects before the school year began.

Davis didn’t wait until the summer to make his recruiting pitch this year. He organized a Junior Day last weekend that produced five commitments, all from the Carolinas. If he wasn’t quite up to speed with the early commitment concept when he accepted the job, he has shown he is a quick learner who’s willing to change when necessary.

-- Ken Tysiac

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Wake Forest class isn't deep, but Deacons' coach likes what he sees

Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe thinks he's come up with a quality-over-quantity kind of recruiting class. He said as much Wednesday, then added, tongue in cheek: "I guess we'll be ranked 13th again out of 12 schools in the ACC."

But the Deacons don't need to sign many players. They graduate 15 from last season's team and expect most of those starting spots to be filled by players by fourth-year juniors and fifth-year seniors. So there isn't much pressure on this year's recruiting class to step right in. But that's always been Grobe's M.O. -- redshirt as many freshmen as possible. Only one true freshman played for the Deacons last season, when they completed a two-year streak of 20 victories, best in school history.

But Grobe likes these new guys. Four of them - offensive linemen Garrick Williams (Columbia, Md.), Chance Raines (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Joe Looney (Lake Worth, Fla.) and tight end J.T. Dixon (Chandler, Ariz.) - are already in school and will participate in spring practice.

Quarterback Ted Stachitas (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.) is equally dangerous with his arm and feet. Running back Lovell Jackson (Tampa, Fla.) finished second in the 100-meter dash in the state meet as a junior.

The Deacons also continue to mine Florida, where they won the ACC championship in 2006 (in Jacksonville) and played in that season's Orange Bowl in Miami. Eight of Wednesday's recruits are from Florida.

"These kids come up here from Florida, have a good experience here and tell their buddies about it," said Grobe.

- David Scott

Video: Thomas signs with Gardner-Webb

West Charlotte quarterback Darius Thomas announces his signing to play at Gardner-Webb on Wednesday at the high school.

Tar Heels coach Davis closing strong again, adds out-of-state recruits

North Carolina coach Butch Davis is adding to his reputation for closing strong on signing day.

Though the Tar Heels lost top North Carolina prospect E.J. Abrams-Ward to Tennessee, signing day decisions outside the state have improved Davis’ second recruiting class.

According to the school’s official web site, North Carolina has received letters of intent from H-back Christian Wilson of McKees Rock, Pa., and safety Herman Davidson of Long Beach, Calif.

Wilson (6-3, 235) is’s No. 11 player in Pennsylvania.

Davidson (6-2, 215) is the first native Californian to pick North Carolina since Chris Keldorf in 1996, and is rated the nation’s 19th-best cornerback by

– Ken Tysiac

Clemson nabs another top-rated running back from Florida

For the second time in three years, Clemson has wrestled a top running back away from the in-state powers in Florida on signing day.

Clemson has received a letter of intent from Jacksonville Trinity Christian running back Jamie Harper, rated the 35th-best player in the nation by, according to the school’s official web site.

Harper follows on the heels of C.J. Spiller, who left Lake Butler, Fla., in 2006 to become one of the most proficient big-play backs in the ACC.

– Ken Tysiac

Clemson adds to impressive class, signs offensive tackle from Alabama

Clemson’s highly regarded class improved Wednesday with the signing day decision of Anniston (Ala.) High offensive tackle Antoine McClain.

According to the school’s official web site, McClain’s letter of intent was received at noon.

He is rated the No. 3 overall prospect in Alabama and strengthens a class already ranked the best in the Carolinas by and

– Ken Tysiac

No. 3 prospect in S.C. picks UNC

Fort Dorchester, S.C., defensive end Robert Quinn gave North Carolina a big signing day catch when he announced Wednesday morning that he will sign with the Tar Heels, a Fort Dorchester athletics official confirmed.

Quinn (6-4, 255) overcame surgery for a brain tumor to remain a top recruit, ranked as the Observer’s No. 3 prospect in South Carolina.

ALLEN BOOSTS CLEMSON. Clemson’s class received a huge boost with the signing of Fayetteville Sanford High tight end Dwayne Allen, who previously committed to Georgia.

In January, the Tigers had lost a top commitment to Georgia when highly rated offensive offensive tackle A.J. Harmon of Jefferson County (Ga.) High changed his mind and chose the Bulldogs.

Clemson’s official athletics web site reported that Allen’s letter of intent was received at 10:51 a.m.

ADAMS STICKS WITH TIGERS: Another top North Carolina athlete, Butler High safety Spencer Adams, also has signed with the Tigers. He committed in January but was rumored to be still considering North Carolina.

In’s North Carolina rankings, Allen is No. 6 overall and Adams is No. 7.

- Ken Tysiac

Thomasville star picks Vols over Heels

Thomasville High’s E.J. Abrams-Ward, the top player in the Observer’s recruiting rankings for North Carolina, committed to Tennessee Wednesday morning.

The commitment was a recruiting setback for North Carolina, which was Abrams-Ward’s other finalist.

"He said it was a tough decision," said Thomasville athletics director Woody Honeycutt, "and it was difficult for him to make the call to (Tar Heels coach) Butch Davis and Carolina informing them of the decision."

Honeycutt said the Volunteers will give Abrams-Ward an opportunity to play wide receiver, which he wanted to do. Some recruiting sites list Abrams-Ward as a linebacker.

- Ken Tysiac

Charlotte-area recruit signings

Kait Roberts (Charlotte)
Joy Pittman (Western Carolina)
Richie Wall (Wingate)
Jordan Darnell (Elon)
Kevin Davis (Presbyterian)
Darrin Mims (Virginia Union)

QB Jacob Charest (Illinois)
DB Robert Blanton (Notre Dame)
DB Spencer Adams (Clemson)
DB Eddie Whitley (Virginia Tech)
WR Jarrett Boykin (Virginia Tech)
WR Mickey Brewer (Presbyterian)
OL Blake Peterson (Gardner-Webb)
LB Jayson Green (Lenoir-Rhyne)
LB Ray Frost (Livingstone)
DB Kenneth Boulware (Catawba)
OL Matt Benson (Washington & Lee)

Keri McAfee (North Carolina)
Charlie Hetzel (U.S. Naval Academy)
Collin Bosse (Merchant Marine Academy)
Michael Sawyer (Loyola, Md.)
Michael Muscatell (Clemson)
Patrick Piscitelli (Oklahoma)

QB Braden Hanson (North Carolina)
WR Brenton Bersin (Wofford)
LB Ben Ashcraft (Yale)
DL Greg Schuster (Liberty)
Andrew Tanneberger (Delaware)
Jasmine Isley (Georgia Tech, women's track)
Malai Walker (North Carolina, women's track)

DB Darian Pearson (N.C. Central)

Devin Johnson, MLB, (Gardner-Webb)
Andre Labinowicz, TE, (Elon)
Octavius Hough, FS, (Catawba College)
Tommy Wallace, DE, (North Carolina Central)
Harrison Martin, OT, (Gardner-Webb)
Michael Mayhew, RB, (North Carolina A&T)

OL/DL Garrett Mills (Wingate)

QB Chris Gilbert (Kent State)
Janna Lewis (S.C. Upstate)
Cody Murtle (Army)
Blake McGee (N.C. A&T)
Jackson Lane (UNC Wilmington)
Christina Melton (Campbell)
Jessie Taylor (Mars Hill)

DB Raquan Wooden (UNC Pembroke)
RB Rod Chisholm (Appalachian State)
DB Makiri Pugh (Georgia)
OL Erik Thompson (UNC Pembroke)
TE Mario Carter (N.C. State)
DE Keytwan Briggs (Wingate)
DE Freddie Mungo (Campbell)
WR Fernando White (N.C. A&T)
OL Shannon Andrews (Livingstone)
DE Jarvis Pierce (Highland, Kan. Community College)

Beck Williams (East Tennessee St.)
Ryan Mertes (Georgia Southern)
Matt Foxx (UNC Greensboro)
J.Q. Brantley (Rollins)
Alyssa Retundie (Catawba)
Elizabeth Croom (Meredith)
WR Tyler McRorie (Campbell)

DB C.J. Wilson (N.C. State)
LB Demery Brewer (Appalachian State)

Christine Perzinski (Davidson)
Casey Van Tassell (Davidson)
Virginia Mayer (Elon)

QB A.J. Blue (North Carolina)

OL Brian Merrifield (Colgate)
Stephanie Benshoof (Gardner-Webb)
Meghan Bullock (Southern Wesleyan)
Kyle Martin (East Tennessee St.)
Ben Johnston (Mt. Olive)
T.J. Jameson (Mt. Olive)
Matt Horn (Winthrop)
Mike Kohlmeir (S.C. Upstate)

Emmy Simpkins (Rutgers)

OL Andrew Wallace (N.C. State)
OL Kevin Flanagan (Army)
Wylie Rea (Winthrop)....graduated early and is currently at Winthrop
Matt Brown (UNC Wilmington)

Track, cross country
Jena Paley (UNC Greensboro)

Michael Lawrence (Wingate)
Samantha Schuller (Coastal Carolina)
Parker Small (Georgia Southern)

OL/DL Brian Davis, Providence Day (Presbyterian

RB Anthony Thwaites (Lenoir-Rhyne)

WR Decona Roberts (N.C. Central)
DE Maurice Bryan (Gardner-Webb)
OT Alex Johnson (N.C. Central)
LB Josh Smith (Greensboro College)
LB Shane Outen (Wingate)

Vance OL Daniel Spisak (Furman)
RB Lavadrick Farrar (Wofford)
DB Isaac McReynolds (Campbell)

LB Alvin Dale Riley II (Elon)
OL/DL William Rayvon Stanback (UNC Pembroke)
RB Justin Duhaney (N.C. A&T)

OL Colin Wint (Davidson)
OL/DL Justin Litaker (Wingate)

Track and field
Bobby Grier, West Charlotte (North Carolina)
Sheqyra Guy, West Charlotte (North Carolina)
Tyrone Craig (Shaw)
Micheal Kimble (Virginia Union)
LB Jordan Woods (Gardner-Webb)
Dylon May (UNC Pembroke)
DB Quay Long (N.C. A&T)
QB Darius Thomas (Gardner-Webb)
Jamil Williams (N.C. Tech)

DE Dave Harris (Winston Salem State)
RB Richard Brannon (College of DuPage, a JUCO in Chicago, Ill.)

QB Justin Siems, Providence (N.C. Tech)
QB Van Hunt, Cedartown Ga. (N.C. Tech)
RB Terrance Kincaid, McDowell (N.C. Tech)
OL Elijah Drayton, North Mecklenburg (N.C. Tech)
OL Jamil Williams, W. Charlotte (N.C. Tech)
OL Justin Hall, Providence (N.C. Tech)
RB Quadarrick Robinson, North Mecklenburg (N.C. Tech)
DB DeAngelo Richardson, North Mecklenburg (N.C. Tech)
DL Javon Tillery, John Marshall, Va. (N.C. Tech)
OL Kareem Hall, John Marshall, Va. (N.C. Tech)
LB Jeremiah Alexander, North Forsyth (N.C. Tech)
WR Avonte Jones, Middle Creek (N.C. Tech)
OL John Salvatore, Osceola Fla. (N.C. Tech)
DB James Pass, Va. Beach HS (N.C. Tech)
DB Taylor Cypress, Chatham Va. (N.C. Tech)
OL Kevin Pope, Va Beach HS (N.C. Tech)
DB Cedeno Johnson, Boone Fla. (N.C. Tech)
OL Trevor Bonnett, Gibbs Fla. (N.C. Tech)
DL Cory Holt, Trotwood Ohio (N.C. Tech)
WR Sanquan Davis, Victory Christian (N.C. Tech)
K/P Justin Matis, North Mecklenburg (N.C. Tech)
WR James Barksdale, Hopewell (N.C. Tech)
DB Marc Little, Wilson Pa. (N.C. Tech)
DL Peniel St. Julien, Wilson Pa.A (N.C. Tech)
DB Avery Joyner, Providence (N.C. Tech)
OL Rayshawn Allen, Newport News Va. (N.C. Tech)
WR Stanley Jean Baptiste, Miami Central Fla. (N.C. Tech)
WR Tyron Harris, Linenwold N.J. (NC Tech)
DB Dexter Morgan, Jefferson Ga. (N.C. Tech)
OL Travis Sullivan, Concord 1st Assembly (N.C. Tech)
OL Josh Bowler, Appalachee Ga. (N.C. Tech)

WR Andrew Johnson (North Carolina Central)
DT Michael Awute (Butler, KS Community College)
DB Jevoris Carter (Butler Community College)
RB Archie Barrow (Johnson C. Smith)
LB Jerome Byrum (Johnson C. Smith)
OT Joe Gray (Johnson C. Smith)
QB Robert Johnson (Johnson C. Smith)
FB/LB Evan Bostic (Garden City, KS, Community College)
DE Carlin Edwards (Garden City Community College)
RB Quinton Hemphill (Garden City Community College)
LB Cordaryl Gibson (Fort Scott, KS, Community College)
RB Jasmin Hopkins (Fort Scott Community College)
TE Tyrone Weaver (Fort Scott Community College)
QB William Love (Emory and Henry College)
RB Christopher McCoy (Emory and Henry College)
OL Kadim Bacchus (Oklahoma Panhandler State)
WR/DB Maron Butler (Oklahoma Panhandler State)
WR Jazmenn Gaston (Oklahoma Panhandler State)
DB Cornelius Kennedy (Oklahoma Panhandler State)
WR Larron Moss (Oklahoma Panhandler State)
DB Jeremy Neely (Oklahoma Panhandler State)
LB Josh Olmann (Oklahoma Panhandler State)
OL Jayden Roseboro (Oklahoma Panhandler State)
DB Craig Foulks (Benedict College)
LB Jay Bostick (Lane College)
WR Andre Taylor (Central Michigan)
DE Rakhim Caldwell (Hutchinson Community College)
DB Delvin Ferguson (Hutchinson Community College)
DB Jermaine Holsey (Hutchinson Community College)
QB Quentin Vaughn (Hutchinson Jr. College)
DB Chase Waldo (Hutchinson Jr. College)