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Recruiting News - 01/23/05

Discussion in '2005/January' started by 3yardsandacloud, Jan 24, 2005.

  1. 3yardsandacloud

    3yardsandacloud Administrator Emeritus

    <font color="#b90000">Sunday, January 23, 2005</font> Recruiting News - 01/23/05


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    RECRUITING: Eric Sledge pulls the trigger - Scout

    RECRUITING: Eric Sledge pulls the trigger
    By Ryan Jordan & GC Staff GatorCountry.com
    Date: Jan 23, 2005

    Eric Sledge made a visit to Columbia, SC last week and made a commitment to the Gamecocks. This week he decided to go ahead with a planned visit to Gainesville, FL. Could the Gators change his mind?

    “I went to Florida this week and I changed my commitment. That is the place I want to be and I always wanted to be since I was growing up. I’ve wanted to be there my whole life and I stepped into that stadium I just knew that was it for me,” Eric Sledge said.

    What was the best part about the weekend?

    “The best part about the visit was the academics and the academic facilities they have. It’s so close to home and I just love it.”

    Is Sledge now completely done with recruiting?

    “I am absolutely through with recruiting now. No more in homes or official visits except with Coach Meyer.”

    Scout.com will speak further to Eric Sledge about his commitment in the near future and GatorCountry.com will have a story from Eric's coach. Stay tuned!



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    Laurinaitis named Mr. Football - Rosemount Sun Current

    Laurinaitis named Mr. Football
    By John Sherman
    Sun Newspapers
    (Created 12/23/2004 10:04:08 AM)

    Even though Wayzata High linebacker James Laurinaitis did not come out a winner in the Prep Bowl this season, he has won the Mr. Football of Minnesota Award for 2004.

    This is the second year for the Mr. Football Award, which last year was shared by Lakeville running back Brylee Callender and Breck School quarterback Liam OíHagan. The award is open to seniors only.

    Laurinaitis, the first defensive player to win the award, performed brilliantly throughout the season with a total of 197 tackles in 14 games.

    His two-year total of 316 tackles may be a state record.

    The Mr. Football Award caps an impressive list of honors for Laurinaitis. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound linebacker and tight end was named to the All-State first team by minnesotapreps.com and was also voted state Defensive Player of the Year by that organization. He made the All-Classic Lake team and the Associated Press All-State team.

    Laurinaitis comes from an athletic background. His father Joe played college football and was a sensation in pro wrestling as Animal of the famous ìRoad Warriors Legion of Doomî tag team.

    In evaluating talent, college scouts look at four things more than anything else ñ academics, football IQ, speed and strength.

    Laurinaitis has a 3.6 grade point average and scored a 25 on the ACT test. Scouts like the way he sees the entire field and reacts to situations. They also like the way he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds and bench presses 305 pounds.

    Laurinaitis is not just a top football player, he is a star in hockey as well. He scored his first goal of the season Saturday as Wayzata defeated Roseville 6-1 in a non-conference game.

    Earlier this year, Letís Play Hockey magazine voted him ìMost likely to go proî among Minnesotaís prep players. Ironically, he was playing in a hockey game for Wayzata High when he was announced as the winner of the Mr. Football Award on Saturday, Dec. 4.

    Laurinaitis said he is pleased to be Mr. Football of 2004. ìBeing named the best player in the state is a great honor,î he said, ìespecially this year, because there are so many great athletes.î

    Laurinaitis said playing in the Prep Bowl against Minnetonka was a special experience ñ because of the rivalry and because the teams always seem to play right down to the wire.

    ìI am still disappointed that we lost,î he said. ìBut if youíd told me at the start of the season that weíd be in the Prep Bowl, I would have taken it.î

    Good genetics

    James Laurinaitis said the two people who have supported him most in his athletic career are his dad and mom, Joe and Julie.

    ìMy dad was a linebacker and my mom was an All-State hurdler,î said Laurinaitis. ìThatís probably the best combination of genetics a person could have.î

    Joe was a junior college All-American at Golden Valley Lutheran College after an outstanding career as a high school athlete at Irondale.

    Instead of pursuing a career in football, the elder Laurinaitis became one of the worldís most prominent professional wrestlers.

    ìMy mom and dad have been huge inspirations to me,î said James Laurinaitis. ìMy mom taught me about nutrition and my dad taught me about training and mental toughness.î

    Laurinaitis became a linebacker while he was playing freshman football at Wayzata High.

    ìI was a defensive end at first, and I wasnít very big ñ only 5-11 and 180 pounds,î he said. ìWe were playing Edina and one of our linebackers got hurt. In my first game at linebacker, I made a game-saving tackle against Edina and I realized thatís where I wanted to be.î

    More awards

    The Mr. Football of Minnesota committee has three more awards, in addition to the Mr. Football Award.

    Walker Ashley of Eden Prairie High School has been named Minnesota Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot-4, 280-pound senior played defensive end and tackle for Mike Grantís Eagles and specialized in stopping the run. He was also a top blocker and pass catcher on offense.

    Nick Mertens of East Grand Forks has been named Minnesota Offensive Player of the Year. He showed his stuff in the Prep Bowl, leading the Green Wave to the state Class 3A title. In the championship game against Becker, Mertens passed for 224 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 59 yards and another touchdown. He also kicked a field goal and ran for a two-point conversion.

    Laurinaitis, Ashley and Mertens were Mr. Football finalists along with South St. Paul quarterback James Leary, St. Louis Park running back Arsenio Richardson, Bloomington Jefferson quarterback Mike Spillman, Sibley East quarterback Jordan Berg, Delano fullback-linebacker Nate Triplett, Mahtomedi lineman Andy Franta, Eastview lineman Ryan Ruckdashel, Tartan running back Jay Thomas, Northfield linebacker Zach Larsen and Maple Grove wide receiver-defensive back Greg Martin.


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    OSU verbal football recruits number 15 - Parkersburg News & Sentinel

    OSU verbal football recruits number 15

    By STEVE HEMMELGARN

    Right now, less than two weeks before the national college football letter of intent signing day on Wednesday, Feb. 2, Ohio State has secured - or so it hopes - a solid corps of 15 star high-school seniors to help fill the Buckeyes' needs for the next few seasons.
    The spectrum of the thought-to-be solid commitments - but you never really know how solid until they actually sign on the dotted line - runs the gamut from wide receivers, offensive linemen and a quarterback to defensive linemen and linebackers.

    Of course, the Buckeyes will desperately need help at running back, unless sophomore Antonio Pittman or redshirt freshmen Erik Haw come through, so it was imperative that they land a top-flight, blue-chip running back.

    And they nabbed one last Saturday at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl when Jacksonville, Fla., speedster Maurice Wells (5-9, 177) decided on OSU for his college choice, picking the Buckeyes over Georgia Tech, USC and Maryland.

    Wells may be the plum of the 2005 Buckeye recruits, being listed by Rivals.com as the fourth-best all-purpose back available in the country. His high school (Sandalwood) coach Adam Gels said with Wells, "I think it comes down to one word - speed. He blows the door open and nobody can touch him. He's so fast (4.4 40), but built like a rock, so has the ability to run between the tackles and around everybody too.''

    High praise for what could very well be the Buckeyes' next Maurice Clarett. But who knows, nothing is official yet and sometimes things just don't work out either.

    Others on Rivals.com's top 100 recruiting list believed to be headed to Columbus are offensive lineman Alex Boone, defensive back Jamario O'Neal and defensive end Doug Worthington, although the latter is still seen as a soft verbal.

    The 6-8, 296-pound Boone from Lakewood St. Edward is viewed as the No. 3 OT in the land by Rivals.com and the best one in the postseason Ohio Top 40 ratings.

    After Ohio State, Boone's closest pursuers were Michigan, Notre Dame and Oklahoma, so he must be a good one.

    "He gets after it, is an aggressive blocker and is going all the way to the whistle,'' said Shaker Heights coach Dave Sedmak. "And when you add in his size, you have yourself one of the better linemen that we've seen around here in a while.''

    O'Neal is one of two more Cleveland Glenville gridders, along with versatile Freddie Lenix, who apparently will join former high school teammates Ted Ginn Jr. and Troy Smith at OSU.

    O'Neal (6-1,190), rated by Rivals.com as the third-best cornerback in the nation, picked the Buckeyes over some other heavyweights - Florida State, Miami, Michigan and Oklahoma. "When he hits you, you know it,'' said his high school coach, Ted Ginn Sr. "He also has speed like a sprinter and can cover the field like a cornerback. He's a great kid too, a coach's dream.''

    Lenix (5-11, 195) is an unusual case. Lenix is listed as a athlete, not at one certain position, but it's said he could play linebacker (his best position), safety or cornerback at OSU. Lenix said he chose the Buckeyes over Big Ten rival Iowa.

    Of course, it seems more than any other position, fans are always interested in quarterbacks, and the Buckeyes apparently nabbed a good one in Cincinnati St. Xavier's Rob Schoenhoft (6-5, 227), tabbed Rivals.com No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the U.S. prep ranks.

    Not that Ohio State needs more QBs with Troy Smith, Justin Zwick and Todd Boeckman, but it seemingly is never enough, in the coaches' minds, to cover all the contingencies.

    "I haven't seen a quarterback with a stronger arm,'' said Schoenhoft's high school coach, Steve Specht. "We actually have to make him ease off, so his receivers can catch the ball. He has great lateral movement and is very capable of running the football. He's very aggressive and never shys away from contact.''

    The Buckeyes too went out of state for some key recruits besides Wells, led by Worthington (6-7, 256), from Athol Springs, N.Y., and Ryan Williams (6-5, 240) from Mission Viejo, Calif., Rivals.com's No. 5 and 12 strongside defensive ends in the country respectively. Also, OSU won out in a recruiting battle with home state University of Minnesota for inside linebacker James Laurinaitis (6-2, 230), tabbed the fourth-best player in Minnesota

    In addition, Ohio State raided Rutgers' home turf in Piscataway, N.J., for cornerback Malcolm Jenkins (6-0, 185) and beat out Duke to land safety Anderson Russell (6-0, 194) from Atlanta .

    The rest of the Buckeyes' verbals so far are all from Ohio - wide receivers Andre Amos (6-1, 180) from Middletown and Brian Hartline (6-2, 174) of Canton GlenOak; Lancaster's Jim Cordle (6-5, 285), the No. 7-rated offensive guard in the nation by Rivals.com; defensive tackle Todd Denlinger (6-3, 280) from Troy; and inside linebacker Austin Spitler (6-2, 216) from Bellbrook.



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    Some question OSU recruit plan - Dayton Daily News

    Some question OSU recruit plan

    Buckeyes target fewer prospects; key running back down to Buckeyes, USC

    By Doug Harris
    Dayton Daily News

    COLUMBUS | Duane Long has spent 20 years analyzing college recruiting, the last seven as a full-time occupation, and he can't ever remember a time when news from Ohio State was so scarce.

    The lineup of prospects still considering the Buckeyes is so small that the Columbus-based publisher of Ohio High School Magazine has found himself with an abundance of free time.

    "I've never seen it like this," Long said. "It's so quiet it's almost eerie.

    "Usually this late in January, there are 20, 25 or 30 players we would need updates on. This year, there are only six players we're tracking."

    Whether by design or through circumstances beyond their control, the Buckeyes' recruiting emphasis has shifted into a much more selective approach.

    They've gotten oral commitments from 15 players — including four ranked in the top 100 nationally by Rivals.com — but reaching their goal of 20 in this class by Signing Day on Feb. 2 will require a strong finishing kick.

    Jason Gwaltney of North Babylon, N.Y., rated the nation's third-best running back by Rivals.com, has narrowed his choices to OSU and Southern Cal.

    The Buckeyes also are awaiting decisions from defensive end Lawrence Wilson of Akron, defensive back Kyle McCarthy of Youngstown, linebacker Tavares Kearney of Tucker, Ga., and defensive lineman Walker Ashley of Eden Prairie, Minn., all of whom are being pursued by other major powers.

    Bill Conley, who spent 11 years as OSU's recruiting coordinator before resigning last April, told an Agonis Club audience last week that the Buckeyes are putting themselves at risk by concentrating on only a handful of prospects.

    "The thing about recruiting is you have to make sure you have a large enough pool because you're only going to get one of every seven out-of-state players," Conley said. "My biggest concern is I'm not sure they're recruiting enough guys."

    Conley said OSU routinely scheduled at least 40 visits during the first two weeks in December and the first week of January. But only 16 prospects made campus tours this winter.

    "That's not nearly enough," Conley said.

    Increasingly stringent admission standards at OSU might be contributing to the reduced numbers. And an ongoing NCAA investigation of the football program may have become a hindrance, too.

    But Long believes the Buckeyes have purposely singled out fewer players, leaving him somewhat baffled.

    "To me, there's still a definite appeal of firing a shotgun into a pack and keeping what you hit," he said. "This is a sniper-rifle way of going about it.

    "The good thing is it allows the coaches to concentrate on a few less kids and give them more specialized treatment. If they can pull it off, it's a great strategy. I'll shut up if it works."

    The Buckeyes' recruiting class currently is ranked ninth nationally by Rivals.com and could climb into the top five with some key commitments.

    Gwaltney rushed for nearly 3,000 yards and 40 touchdowns as a senior. And he put on such an impressive display during the U.S. Army All-Star Game in San Antonio that ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Lemming has begun listing the 6-foot, 235-pound bruiser as the nation's No. 1 fullback.

    "He's going to remind you of a combination of Maurice Clarett and Eddie George," Long said. "He's a little smoother than Clarett. As good as he was, he wasn't pretty to watch, while Eddie had a gliding, more attractive style. Gwaltney is a combination of those two."

    Southern California still has a recruiting chip to play — coach Pete Carroll hasn't made his in-home visit — but Long believes the Buckeyes will prevail.

    "It's always a bad sign (for other schools) when a coach still has an in-home visit," Long said. "But I don't think that's going to sway him.

    "The opportunity to play (immediately) at Ohio State is going to be attractive, in addition to it being much closer to home. I think those are the issues it's going to come down to."


    OSU verbal commitments

    Player Pos. Hometown
    Andre Amos WR Middletown
    Alex Boone* OL Lakewood
    Jim Cordle OL Lancaster
    Todd Denlinger DL Troy
    Brian Hartline WR Canton
    Malcolm Jenkins DB Piscataway, N.J.
    Jim Laurinaitis LB Plymouth, Minn.
    Freddie Lenix LB Cleveland
    Jamario O'Neal* DB Cleveland
    Anderson Russell DB Atlanta, Ga.
    Rob Schoenhoft QB Cincinnati
    Maurice Wells* RB Jacksonville, Fla.
    Austin Spitler LB Bellbrook
    Ryan Williams DE Mission Viejo, Calif.
    Doug Worthington* DE Athol Springs, N.Y.
    *Ranked in top 100 players nationally by Rivals.com

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    What talent remains for ND to consider? (Doug Worthington) - NAME

    What talent remains for ND to consider?
    ND FOOTBALL
    By BOB WIENEKE
    Tribune Staff Writer

    Hanging on a wall inside the Notre Dame football offices is a big board. It lists every Irish player and his position. Under certain positions, there isn't a lot of room to add new names. Under others, there's more room than coach Charlie Weis would probably like.

    In ways, the board is a lot like those utilized by pro teams during the NFL draft.

    "Obviously, the difference is in the draft, when you take them, they're yours," Weis said. "Here, you know, you're going after them, and so is everybody else. It isn't like, 'I want him to fill that spot.' Well, so do the other 10 schools that are recruiting him. You might want him (somebody else) instead."

    Right now, with only 10 days remaining until letter-of-intent day, the number of "hims" is dwindling. Notre Dame has received verbal commitments from 14 high school players, but it's not known how many more will sign on with the Irish.

    Part of the uncertainty has to do with the unknown number of players who will be invited back for fifth years. According to recruiting analyst Tom Lemming, there are some of the names that will be popular in the next 10 days.

    Some, may never be mentioned again. Others, may be around for the next four or five years:

    * Kyle McCarthy, 6-0, 172, athlete, Youngstown, Ohio (Cardinal Mooney): McCarthy visited ND this weekend and the race appears to be between the Irish and Ohio State.

    * Brian Cushing, 6-3, 220, LB, Oradell, N.J. (Bergen Catholic): Cushing is the biggest ND target who remains uncommitted. Notre Dame is trying to convince him to take an official visit, but he may not because he has already visited unofficially. Florida, USC, Virginia, Boston College and Miami are the competition.

    * Doug Worthington, 6-7, 255, DL, Athol Springs, N.Y. (St. Francis): Is committed to Ohio State but still may visit Notre Dame.

    * R.J. Jackson, 6-0, 197, RB, Houston (Westside): Is visiting TCU this weekend. Among the bigger names ND is pursuing. Florida, LSU and Texas are among the other schools wooing him.

    * Julian Williams, 6-5, 270, New Bern, N.C.: At East Carolina this weekend. Another guy ND is trying to convince to visit.

    * Brian Roche, 6-5, 285, OL, Ramsey, N.J. (Don Bosco Prep): Originally committed to Rutgers but has backed out. Expected to make an official visit to ND next weekend.

    * Erik Lorig, 6-4, 250, TE/DE, Rolling Hills Estates, Calif. (Palos Verdes Peninsula): ND still trying to land a visit from him. Believed to be involved with USC, Cal and UCLA.

    * Kellen Moriarty, 6-1, 195, athlete, Goleta, Calif. (Dos Pueblos): Son of former Irish player Larry Moriarty. Notre Dame has not yet made a huge push for him.

    And then there are the two players who at one time were among the cornerstones of this class, both of whom may as well change their first names to "What's the deal with?"

    That's Wichita Falls, Texas (Rider) receiver David Nelson and Akron, Ohio (St. Vincent-St. Mary) defensive end Lawrence Wilson. The 6-6, 195-pound Nelson visited Florida this weekend and remains technically committed to the Irish. He's also involved with Iowa, while Texas is making a late push.

    The 6-6, 235-pound Wilson did decommit from ND. But the visit he received from seven ND assistants last weekend helped pull the Irish even with Florida and Ohio State, his mother said this week. Wilson visited Michigan Thursday and Friday, and could announce this week.

    "There are good enough guys out there," Lemming said. "They're just having a tough time getting them to visit because of the late start."

    Lemming predicts the Irish will fall somewhere between 20 and 30 in the final rankings. That's not bad considering how it looked in the days following Tyrone Willingham's firing.

    "I thought it would be a disaster," he said. "They're still going to do OK."



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    Smalls waiting for offers - Rivals PREMIUM

    January 23, 2005
    Smalls waiting for offers
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Mike Farrell
    Rivals100.com Recruiting Analyst *
    Cornerback Sean Smalls has been waiting for his test scores to find out if he's qualified to play football in the college ranks next season. Did he qualify, and if so, what schools top hs list?



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    Coach: Eric Sledge commits to UF - Rivals PREMIUM

    January 23, 2005
    Coach: Eric Sledge commits to UF
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Michael Hurcomb
    GatorBait.net *
    After returning home from a visit to South Carolina on the weekend of Jan.14, Apopka (Fla.) athlete Eric Sledge came home committed to the Gamecocks. He was slated to cancel his remaining visits, but the Florida coaches insisted that he still visit them this past weekend.



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    Is Worthington still looking at 'Bama? - Rivals PREMIUM

    January 23, 2005
    Is Worthington still looking at 'Bama?
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Drew Champlin
    BamaOnLine.com
    With the recent commitments of two defensive ends to Alabama, much talk has shifted away from Athol Springs, N.Y. four-star end Doug Worthington. However, the 6-foot-7, 256-pound Worthington is still looking hard at Alabama, and vice versa. Head coach Mike Shula visited Worthington and his family early last week. Check the ultimate ticket for the latest update...



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    WVU back in for Gwaltney - Rivals PREMIUM

    January 23, 2005
    WVU back in for Gwaltney
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Mike Farrell
    Rivals100.com *
    They say it's not over until it's over. That's the case when it comes to West Virginia and Long Island (N.Y.) North Babylon running back Jason Gwaltney. Less than a week after being eliminated from the race for the star running back, West Virginia is back in the picture.



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    McCarthy commits to Notre Dame - Rivals PREMIUM

    January 23, 2005
    McCarthy commits to Notre Dame
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Bill Kurelic
    BuckeyeSports.com Recruiting Analyst *
    Three-star athlete Kyle McCarthy of Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney committed to Notre Dame over scholarship offers from Ohio State, Navy, and Toledo.



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    Bucks get last shot with Wilson - Rivals PREMIUM

    January 23, 2005
    Bucks get last shot with Wilson
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Bill Kurelic
    BuckeyeSports.com Recruiting Analyst *
    Although coaches from three schools will be visiting Akron (Ohio) St. Vincent-St. Mary defensive end Lawrence Wilson this week, it looks like a two team battle for his services. Who is coming to see Wilson, when will he decide, and why might the Buckeyes have an edge?



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    McCarthy Verbals To Notre Dame - Scout PREMIUM

    McCarthy Verbals To Notre Dame
    By Mike Frank
    Date: Jan 23, 2005

    Youngstown (Ohio) Mooney defensive back Kyle McCarthy made a weekend official visit to Notre Dame and ended up verbaling to the Fighting Irish over Ohio State and Northwestern.



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    Small Came Up Large At U.S. Army Combine - Scout PREMIUM

    Small Came Up Large At U.S. Army Combine
    By Gary Housteau
    Date: Jan 23, 2005

    If his performance in the U.S. Army National Combine is any indication the transition to defense full-time next season is a welcome challenge for Ray Small of Cleveland Glenville High School. Small was a top receiver/slot back, for the most part, this past season and will continue in that role, but defensive back is where he hopes to establish himself next season.



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    Mr. Bucknuts Bucket Of Bullets - Scout

    Mr. Bucknuts Bucket Of Bullets
    By Mr. Bucknuts
    Date: Jan 23, 2005

    It's been a strange final month for Ohio State recruiting. With things coming to a close, Mr. Bucknuts decides to take one last look today at where things stand and where things could go from here. Click on the link for the latest version of the recruiting report card.

    It wasn’t the best of times and it wasn’t the worst of times, this tale of two weeks – the last two weeks on the Buckeye recruiting trail. Your faithful scrivener, Mr. Bucknuts, feels a lot more like Uriah Heep. That is, it’s been a humbling time – once again – to navigate the choppy waters leading to Commitment Day.

    And, as I said (and I do tend to repeat myself in both words and themes…), it wasn’t all mealy potatoes from early January until now. But sometimes it just feels that way. It feels like our Plan A and Plan B both come a-cropper as we close in on the harvest. To wit:

    Plan A guys are disappearing like ESPN coverage at a positive Buckeye media announcement. First, Kevin Bemoll has convinced us that he doesn’t want to be a Buckeye. Despite the cloak that he was concerned over the trumped up ESPN allegations, he really just wanted to stay near home. His geography teacher probably could have pointed out that the flight from LAX to Columbus is shorter than the seven-hour drive to Berkeley but that’s water over the damn lineman at this point. There was no Plan B for Bemoll and OSU is left at least one OL short in this class.

    Other Plan A guys morphing into the mist? Well, there was Alex Daniels, who needed a smaller distant stage in order to claim the center of it – finally committing to Minnesota to join two lesser-light teammates. OSU's Plan B for Alex is Lawrence Wilson, who keeps them at No. 1 while trying to find out if there are more palatable passions elsewhere: Notre Dame (redux), Michigan, Florida et al. It is a humbling experience… Carlos Thomas came and went, visiting Ohio State on one weekend and committing to South Carolina the next. Plan B for Carlos seems to be Kyle McCarthy, who really wants to go to Ohio State – if Notre Dame and Northwestern don’t show him enough love. Humbling, indeed. If Kyle flakes out, there is always EJ Biggers but we are not used to a Plan C kinda guy! Finally, Rico McCoy had us at “hello” when he wore an OSU T-shirt at the All-Star game. He then committed (two days later) to Tennessee, to become one of their 6-7 four-star LB recruits all assuming they will start next season. OSU's Plan B for Rico? Tavares Kearney, who was hustled up to Columbus the following weekend. A “weakened” Tavares spent two days at Ohio State with food poisoning – ahh, the best laid plans. He avers that he will become a Buckeye, if his Plan A – Georgia – doesn’t offer him. Humbling, I tell you.

    The news was more enticing with OSU's running back recruits. Maurice Wells was the first to commit at the All-Star game, donning a Buckeye cap. And Jason Gwaltney keeps us hanging on, insisting that he is down to USC and Ohio State. Getting and keeping that fine pair will re-pair some of the slings and arrows.

    But even getting the pledge from Maurice Wells came with a humbling dose, a backhand to the ego. Our own recruiting guru assemblage at Scout.com, waited until Maurice committed to the Buckeyes and then downgraded him from the ninth best running back in the country to the 24th. Our own guys! Can you say, “Familiarity breeds contempt”? Or maybe: “I would never join a club that would have me as a member”.

    Actually, in Scout’s case, it seems to be a strong case of regional chauvinism as the Southern Contingent of analysts brings on the southern boys and the SEC commits at the end of the process. Take Maurice’s example: our rival network had him as the No. 1 back in the country (they still list him as No. 4…). He is a Parade All-American. And Bill Conley – with a quarter century of talent evaluation under his belt - offered this kid nearly a year ago after seeing his tapes and before he even bounced it off the staff! Conley and the other services still feel we have a five-star kid. Scout thinks there could be a couple dozen better – otherwise, why would he go to OSU?

    And to keep us nibbling humble pie, Scout also reduced most of the other OSU commits: Andre Amos dropped from #21 to #29 without playing a game; Brian Hartline went from #19 to #29 after spending a year on crutches; and Jim Cordle went from #24 to #30. Then it got worse. Freddie Lenix dropped from #24 to #26 to #32 despite Scout saying he should have been an Army All-Star. Ryan Williams fell like a stone from #35 to #52 to #60. Rob Schoenhoft went from #6 to #18 and out of the Top 100. Todd Denlinger also quietly left the Top 100. And Maurice is lucky to be listed at all, so losing a star or two and dropping out of the Top 100 shouldn’t be perceived as a slight.

    My take? Listen to the Ohio State coaching staff and Bucknuts and realize that the Scout folks have regional biases and some filtered impressions. After all, they have listed Luthur Brown as OSU's top LB candidate for most of the year – they might as well have put Mike Singletary, Spielman and Buster Davis on that list.

    Humbling, I tell you…

    By the way, we will have Jamie Newberg on as our guest this week on “The Bucknuts Radio Hour”. Maybe an explanation is in the offing…

    Where we are now…

    As I post this on Sunday, January 23, with Commitment Day just 10 days away, I do not have Great Expectations (See? There is a theme to this chaos…). I would simply like OSU to hang on to the recruits we have now (are you listening DougWorthington?), bring Lawrence Wilson aboard, and treat everything else as icing on the cake. That’s right - Jason Gwaltney would be particularly delicious icing, but icing nonetheless. If Kyle McCarthy wants to come here – fine. But, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. If Tavares Kearney wants to add to the depth of our line-backing group, I will accept that without question. Walker Ashley would be a pleasant surprise but he has “committed” to enough schools that he has taken a bit of the edge off of it, for me. And that’s about it. The Tuckers and the Biggers don’t do anything for me other than force me answer a lot of quizzical e-mail…

    As a final clean up of names. then: James McKinney isn’t coming, Brian Robiskie wasn’t offered, and Stephen Gowland and Sean Smalls seem to have lost all their offers – so I assume that’s true with the one’s from Columbus, as well.

    Where does that leave OSU, in the end? They got a running back we needed. They got another quarterback with potential. They are light on receivers and struck out at tight end and fullback. They ended up short on the numbers we wanted on the offensive line.

    But, with Worthington and Wilson, they would have the defensive line guys they wanted. They have good depth added at linebacker. And they have a bunch of good defensive backs. All in all – a good year (B+), but they will have to come back next year with a vengeance,

    And next year promises to be a very fertile one in Ohio (think 2002). So –hey – don’t worry so much!

    Can Tressel close?

    We’ve been asked this so many times, I figured I would give you my answer here to save me answering it over and over again during the next few weeks.

    Here’s how I see it…

    The Jim Tressel recruiting engine is like a breed of marathoner; one that knows we can’t really rely on much of a kick. That is, we need to grind. To build up a big lead early in the race, maintain the pressure through the middle miles, and then hang on to that lead down the stretch run.

    That’s how they won the race for the best class in the country (my opinion…) for the Class of 2002. OSU got some Big Names early (Hawk, Zwick, Carpenter, Clarett, etcetera), added some Big Meat in the middle (D’Andrea, Stan White, RJ Coleman, Roy Hal, EJ Underwood, etcetera) and closed with just enough to surge at the finish line (Derek Morris (sick), Troy Smith, Santonio Holmes, etcetera).

    And that type of recruiting race is the one that makes the most sense to run. When you leave too much on the table for December and January – well, what programs do you think recruit best in those bad weather months? That’s right – you are talking Florida, Florida State, Miami, USC and the like. Where impressionable kids can be seduced in the sunshine.

    Two years ago, we left it down to a sprint to the finish and here’s how Mr. Bucknuts summed up the last week for the Class of 2003 (brrr…it still brings back shakes and shudders just to reminisce):

    It was like standing up against the wall and having someone shoot at you. Luckily, I was wearing my scarlet-and-gray bulletproof vest. But the slugs nearly knocked me down, anyway.

    “Did we get James Lee?”

    “No, he went to Georgia” Pow!

    “Well, how about Devin Stearns?”

    “Huh uh. He committed to Cal.” Bam!

    “I know the coaches really really wanted Turk McBride. Did we get him?”

    *“No, he went to Tennessee.” Oof!

    "And…and…and Aaron Sears?”

    *“Tennessee, too.” Ouch!

    “Gosh, I’m scared to ask, but with Spielman on our side, I felt pretty good that we would get Shawn Crable, right?”

    “No can do, Bucky. He opted for Michigan.” Wham!

    “Good god – and Michael Bush?”

    ”Stayed home and went to Louisville” Oh, man!

    “All right, at least we kept all the verbals. After all, it was a great class, no matter what the other …”

    “Not so fast, there Mr. Bucknuts. Stanley McClover decommittted and picked Auburn” Kapow!

    That’s it. I’m asking no more questions. The news just got worse and worse as the day went on last Wednesday. A number of us had used the unfortunate phrase “Even if we don’t get a single other commitment…”, but we didn’t actually believe that would happen. It was like Michael Jordan missing seven straight free throws. It was like Matt Zahn passing up a smorgasbord. It was like LeBron James resisting temptation. I mean, what are the odds?

    The next recruiting season, you ask? Unfortunately, we saw more of the same. OSU was girded for a strong finish – because, well… they had to have one ! And what did we get? This is the report I filed right after we firmed up the Class of 2004:

    And so it ends with a whimper and not a bang. Kinda like last year except this year we braced ourselves with lower expectations on Commitment Day. Thankfully. We watched as the signing day dominoes fell one by one. Dwayne Jarrett? USC. James Bryant? Miami. Javier Estopinian? Florida. Willie Young? NC State. Rhyan Anderson? Miami. Frank Morton? Tulane! At least we didn’t feel like the aptly named Pitt, which had 5-star QB commit Anthony Morelli defect on the last day (he went to PSU), 4-star RB commit Andrew Johnson defect to Miami along with local talent James Bryant and then – just two days later – lost the best wide receiver in college football to the NFL draft. Now, that’s a bad couple of days.

    Our “bad days’ centered around receivers, as well. First, we lose a very promising Miles Williams on grades although most of the rest of the Big Ten didn’t seem to have that problem with Miles. Then we lose an even better prospect – Dajuan Morgan – for the same ostensible reason. The vultures from NC State had him signed within a week. Two days later, Ohio’s best WR prospect for next year, Mario Manningham, commits to Michigan. Plus, the well-publicized “defections” of Fred Davis and Dwayne Jarrett certainly hurt. I spoke with Fred’s mother this week and she was surprised 1) That he ended up at SoCal and 2) That they took Dwayne Jarrett. So much for the implied promises, eh?

    So, I like our style here for the Class of 2005. OSU got off to a great start, inking Jamario O’Neal and Alex Boone early. Two five-star gets to get us started…They added on four-star recruits Todd Denlinger, Jim Cordle and Rob Schoenhoft. And we corralled some big name out-of-state kids in Doug Worthington and Ryan Williams.

    So we have to hold off the sprinters now that we are nearing the finish. OSU lost two Big Ones with a few miles to go as Kevin Bemoll de-committed and Rico McCoy joined the Tennessee stampede. But they still have closing power as they got a commit from national running back Maurice Wells. And they are in the Top 2 (or so) for the following Good Names:

    1. Jason Gwaltney

    2. Tavares Kearney

    3. Walker Ashley

    4. Lawrence Wilson

    5. Kyle McCarthy

    6. Taalib Tucker

    The Buckeyes also have to play “defense” on guys like Worthington so that they don’t get any other big-time de-commits.

    Before we finish up here for this humbling review, let’s look at those guys that took their name off the list by committing during the past two weeks:

    1. Rico McCoy: Committed to Tennessee

    2. Jared Cook: No longer interested in the Bucks; will commit elsewhere

    3. Dan Doering; Committed to Iowa

    4. Melvin Alaeze: To Maryland

    5. Ray Henderson: To Tennessee

    6. Ryan Bain: To Iowa

    7. Conredge Collins: OSU notified Conredge that they were no longer in pursuit.

    8. Nyan Boateng: To Florida

    9. Anthony Moeaki: To Iowa

    10. Carlos Thomas: To South Carolina

    11. Eric Sledge: To South Carolina


    And here are changes in The Chart:

    Rico McCoy: Gone off to sing “Rocky Top”. I really liked this kid and consider him a big loss…

    Sean Smalls: No further news; no opportunities here. He seems to have “given back” all his offers.

    Stephen Gowland: One of the year’s mysteries. He closed himself out of a few big time offers and now seems ready to walk on at Auburn.

    Kevin Bemoll: As much as we hate to admit it, it’s time to bid adieu. Another big loss…

    Eric Sledge: Allegedly only awaiting an offer, he accepted Spurrier’s offer while he was awaiting…

    Carlos Thomas: Had the offer and the visit – decided on South Carolina.
     

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