The ACC is getting strongerPosted: Wednesday November 20, 2002 7:52 PM
Updated: Monday November 25, 2002 12:15 PM
There has been an influx of new coaches in the Atlantic Coast Conference over the past few seasons. Obviously, Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden is the dean of ACC coaches and the Seminoles have dominated the conference, both on and off the field. But what does the future hold for the rest of the conference?
If recruiting is any indication, then the ACC should become more and more competitive each year. There is some serious recruiting going on in this conference, especially on the campuses in Charlottesville, Raleigh, Chapel Hill and College Park.
Last season, Florida State claimed the conference's top recruiting class. But teams such as Virginia and North Carolina State put together very good classes. Maryland captured the ACC title in 2001 and they really capitalized on the conference title, as the Terrapins turned some heads in the recruiting wars.
This recruiting season is no different. The Cavaliers, Wolfpack and Terps all are off to excellent recruiting campaigns. So is North Carolina.
The big difference between the present and the past is the coaches. Prospects want to go play for Ralph Friedgen, Al Groh, Jim Bunting and Chuck Amato. Friedgen and his Terrapins proved last season that the Seminoles are not invincible. Every team in the ACC no longer is intimidated by Florida State and it does have an affect on the recruiting process. The question is can these teams take advantage of this opportunity?
Virginia has. They had a great group of athletes come in this fall and they have another great group on the way, led by the nation's top offensive line prospect, Jordy Lipsey. The Cavs have a young nucleus that is learning how to win. They have had a nice season and a strong finish could mean a lot in December and January.
N.C. State blasted off to a 9-0 start but has struggled of late. It doesn't matter because they could be putting together their best recruiting class in quite some time. The bottom line is that they have to keep the top in-state kids in state (same with UNC). It starts with defensive end Mario Williams of Richlands, N.C., who is committed to the Pack but still is looking around. Also, Amato has done a terrific job of signing athletes such as T.A. McLendon and A.J. Davis. Now, they need to go sign some big athletes to fill the trenches.
Maryland now has had two back-to-back successful seasons. That alone will catch everyone's attention because the Terps proved they are not a one-hit wonder. It also shows that Maryland is so well coached. The mind and system of Friedgen is very attractive to the prospects and this is a strong selling point for the Terrapin coaches.
The bottom line is that the ACC is an improving conference. It is no longer Florida State and it's eight sisters. The new blood of these coaches as well as Jim Grobe, John Bunting and Chan Gailey, will propel this conference to the next level. And it all starts with recruiting, and in recruiting, these programs are making their run.
USC lands one of nation's top Des
Southern Cal picked up one of the nation's top defensive ends -- Lawrence Jackson from Inglewood, Calif.
"Yeah, I'm a Trojan," Jackson said. "I actually committed to them about six weeks ago, but I asked them to keep it quiet for me, which they did and I'm thankful for that. I went to a practice and I just figured, I know I'm going to come here so I might as well get it over with. I wanted to take my trips and I thought if my commitment was out there, it would hurt that. That's why I kept it quiet.
"I decided to go public now because I think it could help with the rest of the recruiting class. I know there's a lot of players who like USC, but are waiting to make their decisions. Now that I've committed, hopefully others will want to follow that and commit too. Plus now I can recruit other players I know to come and play here.
"I think the future at USC is very bright. They're rolling right now on both sides of the ball and the amazing thing is Pete Carroll doesn't even have all of his players in the program yet. Defensively, they have a lot of injuries to key players but they're still dominating everyone. I'm excited to play in that defense and I can't wait to play for coach [Ed] Orgeron. He's the best defensive line coach there is and I know he'll bring out the best in me."
Jackson, who we have as the top rated defensive player on the West Coast, said he still wants to take his visits but the next one he'll be taking is to USC November 29 when the Trojans take on Notre Dame.
-- Greg Biggins, PacWestFootball.com
Top Alabama athlete down to four
Will Roach's season ended last week with a loss in the playoffs, but the fun has just begun for one of the best athletes in the state of Alabama this year. Roach is a versatile player that can play several positions, and he will be a hot commodity on the recruiting circuit over the course of the next two and a half months.
"I pretty much played wide receiver, safety and corner this season," said Roach. "I didn't get a chance to go up to the Tennessee/Miami game; the only other game I've been to recently is the Alabama/Mississippi State game. I haven't set up any officials yet, but I'm going to try and set them up with Tennessee, LSU, Alabama, and Ole Miss. It's pretty much down to those four teams, and Tennessee is still my leader."
-- Scott Kennedy of BorderWars.com
At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Earl Everett of Bushnell (Fla.) South Sumter has a lot going for him right now. He's led his team into the second round of the state playoffs; Bushnell won 42-14 in the first round (Everett had 160 yards, three touchdowns, and 11 tackles), and he's being recruited as heavily as any player in Florida.
The best news came the other day when he was called into his coach's office.
"He said he received a couple of calls from college coaches that said the NCAA has approved a new sliding scale that goes into effect immediately," Everett said. "The coaches said I'm now a full qualifier. I was real happy and so was my coach."
Despite the good news, Everett said he's not satisfied yet with his scores. "My core is between a 2.7 and a 3.0," he said. "I am trying to bring my test scores up. I took the SAT a few weeks ago and I'm still waiting on my scores and I'm going to take the ACT again. I'm qualified now, but I want to score higher."
Everett said not much has changed in regards to the recruiting process. "I went to the Florida game yesterday," he said. "I got a chance to talk to the coaches and they were happy to see me. They said they'll be at my game on Friday. I think the linebackers coach is coming. The thing I like about Florida is the environment. I really think I can fit in well there and they need some linebackers."
Everett, who will make an official visit to Florida on Jan. 17, said he's still considering four other schools.
"I'm still looking at Florida, Miami, Nebraska, Tennessee, and South Florida," he said. "Nebraska still calls every week and wants me to play quarterback but I think that might be a little too far from home. I'm going to try to make a visit there in late December. They told me their QB is a junior and they really don't have any backups."
The standout linebacker said he still is very high on Miami.
"I still like Miami a lot too," he said. "I haven't had a chance to watch their games lately, but they're winning of course. coach Soldinger and coach Vernon [Hargreaves] still call each week and I enjoy talking to them. It's like we always find something to talk about. I really like their defense and I think I can fit in real well. I'm really looking forward to going down there for my visit [on Jan. 24]."
Everett, who said he plans on competing in the CaliFlorida All-Star game in January, said the two in-state schools remain atop his current list. "Florida and Miami are my two favorites," he said. "They're even right now. I'll take my visits in January and then make a decision around signing day."
-- Mike Bakas of TheInsiders.com
Purdue runs down a track star
Joe Tiller went down to the Lone Star State this spring looking for speed and he found some in Arlington.
Robert Smith, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound, wide receiver from Arlington (Tex.) Bowie has given a verbal commitment to Tiller and Purdue.
Smith is a track star that has been timed at 10.5 seconds in the 100 meters. Bowie head coach Anthony Criss says Smith has a lot of upside.
"Robert's stats weren't great this year but his best football is ahead of him." Criss said.
"We used Robert to stretch defenses this year and he was open plenty but our quarterback was average and we just couldn't connect as much as we would have liked.
"We actually had about nine guys on our team that could catch the ball. Robert has good hands and he should do well at Purdue."
Were there any other schools in on Smith before he made his verbal commitment to the Boilermakers?
"Well, Minnesota and Texas A&M were the only real heavyweights but Purdue has been in on Robert since last spring so it was kind of a done deal." coach Criss said.
-- Chris Pool, PoolRecruiting.com
No. 1 OL to visit five
HeartlandRecruiting.com asked Ofa Mohetau what happened to his team, on Friday night (losing to Arlington Lamar in the first round of the playoffs). "Oh man, I don't know what happened," he said. "We just didn't bring our A game with us."
Mohetau, 6-foot-3, 320 pounds, will have plenty of "A" games in his future, as he's received more than 60 Division I offers.
"Coach [Steve] Lineweaver helped me set my visits," he continued, "I have Miami scheduled for December 13th, Oklahoma December 20th and BYU for January 17th. I'm not sure about the dates for Texas and Arizona State, but they'll probably be in January."
Ofa said he was doing "great" in school.
"I've scored a 17 on the ACT and will be taking it again next month," he added. "Right now, my grades are my No. 1 priority. The other [making the right decision on a school] will come later."
There are countless fans from among those five programs who can hardly wait for that day to come.
-- David Garvin, HeartlandRecruiting.com