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Recruiting News - 01/15/05 - Army All American Game - EAST STORIES Part II


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<font color="#b90000">Saturday, January 15, 2005</font> Army All American Game - EAST STORIES Part II

Decision Day For Baker - Scout

Decision Day For Baker
By James Henderson**Pack Pride
Date: Jan 15, 2005

Jamestown (NC) Ragsdale Running Back Toney Baker will announce his college choice today at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.

Toney Baker, a five-star prospect and North Carolina's top player, has narrowed his list to NC State, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Virginia Tech.

As a senior, Baker rushed 288 times for 3,030 yards and 34 touchdowns. He finished his career with 10,231 career rushing yards - second all-time to Texas prep legend Ken Hall - and 132 touchdowns. Baker also broke Wolfpack star T.A. McLendon's North Carolina career rushing record of 9,038 yards.

Baker's expected to announce his decision prior to the fourth quarter of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The game is nationally televised on NBC and kickoff is set for 1 PM EST.

Wells Chooses Ohio State (Links to Interviews & Film) - Scout

Wells Chooses Ohio State
By Bucknuts.com Staff**
Date: Jan 15, 2005

The Buckeye recruiting class added a big commitment today (or was it actually a while ago?) as running back Maurice Wells made the news public that he was going to attend Ohio State. The news was given to the world a short time ago during the US Army All-American Bowl. Check out this link for more, including an exclusive video interview conducted by Steve Ryan of Big Red Report in which Wells discusses his choice to attend OSU.

He's been the talk of Buckeye fans who follow recruiting all year long -- and he's now a Buckeye.

Running back Maurice Wells of Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood has made it official as he has announced he will be attending Ohio State. The speedy running back chose Ohio State over Georgia Tech and also had offers from dozens of schools, including USC, Notre Dame, and Michigan.

Wells placed an Ohio State hat on his head on live television a short time ago and declared, "When it's all said and done, I'm going to be a Buckeye."

Wells rushed for over 3,000 yards in his junior season and over 5,000 for his career. Wells put up 31 touchdowns in his junior year and had a one-game output of 429 yards. He was named Nike Camp MVP in Atlanta over the summer, running a 4.4-second 40-yard dash and performing 20 bench press reps of 185 pounds.

Wells, who has family in Columbus, took an official visit to Ohio State in November for the Michigan game. He actually made his decision a short time after the visit.

"I have family in the Columbus area," Wells said earlier in the week. "My mom, her whole side is from Columbus. We lived there for a little bit. But Georgia Tech -- my head coach at my high school, his dad is an assistant at Georgia Tech. Both the schools were my first two scholarship offers. They recruited me from the beginning. They both showed that they really needed me and they really wanted me. I liked that."*

Wells scored an 890 on his SAT and holds a 3.5 GPA. He is rated by Scout.com as the No. 9 running back in America and the No. 67 overall player in America. Wells is rated by Charles Fishbein of FloridaKids.net as the No. 21 overall prospect in Florida.

We also have an exclusive interview taped with Maurice Wells, during which he explains his decision to attend Ohio State (premium link) as well as some highlight footage. To watch these videos, you will need Microsoft Media Player. Click here to here download the most recent version of Media Player. Click on a link below:

GBW's Final Pre-Game Practice Notes - Scout PREMIUM

GBW's Final Pre-Game Practice Notes
By Sam Webb**Columnist/Photographer
Date: Jan 15, 2005

GoBlueWolverine was back at the Alamodome yesterday to check out the practice sessions.

Here we check in with our final takes on Marques Slocum, James Mckinney,and Zoltan Mesko leading up to the game.

Back in the spring when GBW traveled to the Penn State Nike camp we witnessed overpowering performances from two of the top defensive linemen in the country. One was Randallstown Maryland’s Melvin Alaeze. The other was Philadelphia West Catholic’s Marques Slocum. The agile lineman tipped the scales at over 330 pounds that day, but still displayed the nimbleness that we’ve witnessed in other big guys like Gabe Watson and Alan Branch.

Fast forward a half year to this week’s Army All American game. There is something that sets Marques apart from the aforementioned Wolverines. We are looking at a young man who has undergone a metamorphosis that the other two never did while in high school. Slocum has shed much of the excess weight he was carrying and is starting to pack on the muscle. Now down to a svelte 310, the already graceful big man is an even more imposing adversary for those unfortunate youngsters he squares off against.

His versatility was on display earlier in the week he beat out Dace Richardson for the starting offensive guard spot. Originally slated to play both ways, he made no secret of the fact that he prefers defense. Yesterday we got word that he ill now be starting at defensive tackle in the game. When speaking of potential, Marques has only scratched the surface according to Coach Will Cooper.

“Marques hadn’t really lifted weighs before we got him at West Catholic,” Cooper said. “Not a lot of people knew about him because the school he was at previously didn’t really push their players like we do. Everyone was talking about Callahan Bright. Well Callahan is a great player, but so is Marques. Callahan is a kid that has been lifting weights seriously for years. Marques is just naturally strong, quick, and explosive. Plus he is bigger. I think Marques is the better player.”

In today’s game, it will not take long for him to start seeing double teams. If the West refuses to do that, expect Marques to pitch a tent in the West backfield.

Slocum’s line-mate, James McKinney, returned to action Friday and had some of the spring back in his step. Though he is still nagged a little by his hip flexor injury, he should be able to go in today’s contest. If he doesn’t make it into the lineup, expect him to get significant ribbing from his friend Marques. The West Philly native has not let up on James’ Kentucky twang. “James is from Lou-Vull,” Slocum said laughing.

Toward the end of the practice session we moved on from watching the defensive line to the watching Zoltan Mesko. We observed him practicing directional kicking again, and time after time, the young man accurately dropped them inside the ten. Of course, it was only practice. That said, if what he shows in game prep translates to when the bright lights are on and the rush bearing down on him, the Wolverines may actually be able to look to their punter as a weapon.

That would certainly make Zoltan unique, but so too will his a character. Both funny and gregarious, the other kids on the team seem to genuinely like him. Whoever heard of the punter being the most popular guy on the team? As odd as it sounds, if Zoltan does not hold that distinction, he is very close to doing so. He is without question one of the more well-liked kids on the East squad. That will surely be the case for both fans and players alike in Ann Arbor. That is, of course, unless he shanks a few too many punts!

By the way, did we mention that Mesko beat Iowa’s Jake Christensen in the passing competition?

Jake Christensen: The Ring Leader - Scout PREMIUM

Jake Christensen: The Ring Leader
By Jon Miller**Publisher
Date: Jan 15, 2005

Jake Christensen talks about Iowa's newest commitments.

Now that Iowa fans have seen the amazing recruiting windfall that the Hawkeyes received during Saturday’s US Army All American Bowl, we can publish an interview that Jon Miller held with Jake Christensen on Wednesday of this week.

Though Jake committed to Iowa back in June, he has been working extremely hard for the Hawkeyes in the role of a recruiter. There is no doubt that his efforts and abilities helped Iowa land perhaps its best recruiting class in school history. Jake’s father, Jeff, has also been very instrumental in helping Iowa targets see the opportunities that await them in Iowa City.

How did you feel when you learned that Dan Doering and Dace Richardson would be joining you as members of Iowa’s recruiting class of 2005?

I was elated. To know that I will have those two guys on the corners protecting me, that is something that every quarterback knows that he needs and that is what every offense needs to be successful, and we have two of the top in the country.

Does it make it more special considering the bond that you and Dan have been able to forge over the past 12 months? (NOTE: They met for the first time at the 2004 US Army Junior Combine)

Yeah, it helps a lot. Dan and me have become real, real close and it’s something that I can see paying off in the future. We will have a lot of great players on our team; with Dace, Dan and me, we have become close, and hopefully our team can see that and build from that.

Ryan Bain is another new teammate of yours, and you played against him at the high school level. Were you excited when your learned that he would be joining you at Iowa?

Oh yeah, I was real excited. He is a different breed. He is a guy who is going to get it done no matter what, and you can’t tell him different. Talking about a guy like Bain, it gives me chills. I know that he is a guy that I want in my corner in the fourth quarter or in a dark alley, because he has that toughness that I love and that we all love.

On the field, he becomes a different animal. I played against him this year, and he was gunning for me, I will tell you that much. Every time he had a chance to get a hit in on me, he did it. That is something that Big Ten quarterbacks are going to have to fear for the next five years; I feel sorry for them.

You and your father certainly did not shy away from the recruiting process after you had committed. Did you enjoy being a part of that?

I liked it a lot, because the guys that we are recruiting, there are no celebrities. The guys that Iowa recruits, they are not reading their press clippings; that is not what Iowa is about. They are about integrity and great people, and that is what these guys are about. So it has been a joy to talk with them on the phone and see them at things like this. They are not guys that you will ever get sick of; you just want to be around them more and more.

Do you think that your father will be disappointed once this recruiting class is all signed and delivered? He was a big part of it, and he certainly helped Iowa’s cause. Do you think he will miss it?

I think he might get bored and he might have to just enjoy it for once.

Was this special for you to be working on the same ‘team’ as your father, and sharing the entire process with him?

I can’t put it into words how important it is and how much it has helped me. Not many guys have a father that played in the NFL and know so much about the game. He is just a person who will observe for a good five to ten minutes, and he will see everything. He can judge me in every phase of the game and that really helps me. Without him, I don’t know where I would be.

How is that going to feel at the next level and your father is not right there beside you?

It will be different for a little bit, but hopefully he will have the same seat for every game, so I will be able to give him a head nod. But we will be on the phone a lot and he will be with me every step of the way

Do you ever see college as a chance to make your own name for yourself as opposed to being the son of a former NFL quarterback?

That has never been a concern. He never made me feel like I was in a shadow. Nothing has come easy for me because of that. He just wants the best for me.

But it’s something I am proud of. It has never been a pressure to me. He deserves a lot of the credit for where I am at, and it’s a joy to share this with him.

I was talking with Tony Moeaki and he told me that he has never caught passes like yours.

To be honest, when in doubt down here, I throw to Tony. His hands are so soft, he is so smooth and he always gets open. He is beating DB’s, guys who receivers cannot even get around. He and Trey (Stross)…I really don’t know what to say. It’s going to be great.

When you got down here, you knew that Trey would be joining you at Iowa. You two have hooked up a lot during practices. Does that give you guys a head start on your Iowa career?

It helps a lot, because we get to know one another. He may play next year and I may play later, but we will have that great head start, and it’s almost like going to school together for another year. We are getting an extra ‘year’ out here together, and that will help out a lot.

Doering: How He Became a Hawkeye - Scout PREMIUM

Doering: How He Became a Hawkeye
By Jon Miller**Publisher
Date: Jan 15, 2005

Dan Doering was offered a scholarship to the University of Iowa in February of 2004. Over the course of the last 11 months, Doering has been among the most talked about Iowa recruits in recent memory. On Saturday, Dan told a national television audience that he was committing to the University of Iowa. Jon Miller spoke with Doering on Wednesday in a private one on one conversation to talk about when he knew Iowa was the place for him, and much, much more in this exclusive to HN.com..

I introduced you to Dan Doering back in February of 2004, after having met Dan and his parents at an Iowa Junior Day when Iowa beat Michigan in Carver Hawkeye during the FanFest weekend.

We gave you an inside look at Doering and his family in a Hawkeye Nation magazine feature.

I told you since this summer that if Dan Doering were to commit to any school other than Iowa, then I probably needed to get out of this business, because Doering to Iowa seemed about as logical and right as any recruit I have ever covered.

During the second quarter at Saturday’s US Army All American Bowl game, Doering ended the speculation in front of a National Television audience and chose the Iowa Hawkeyes.

I interviewed Doering on Wednesday night, three days before his announcement.

What was it about Iowa that made the difference for you?

One factor is Coach Ferentz. He is a great guy and he has the offensive line background. I really liked him from the first time that I met him. Then there is Chris Doyle. Iowa has an outstanding program and a tradition of taking walkon’s and turning them into NFL stars. I think that is real cool. The team atmosphere is great; the guys are good Midwest guys, they play hard and they have fun. Iowa City is a great town and everyone is real nice. It’s a great campus. It’s a good fit for me.

You made so many visits to Iowa that we lost count. How many visits into your seemingly monthly pilgrimage to Iowa was the one where you knew?

I went there my sophomore year for a summer camp, then I went there once in my Junior year and they offered me (Michigan home game in 2004). At that time I was unsure. I went there again for a spring practice and I saw how the guys were working and I saw the team chemistry. I kind of had the feeling then, I think it was my third or fourth visit. I told my mother, ‘I am coming here.’ I think that kind of scared my parents at first, because they did not want me to rush into any decisions and to keep an open mind. So Iowa was there, and I kind of put them in my pocket and started taking other visits. Iowa sort of set the bar and other schools had to show me that they were better. But that never happened.

Did you ever give a thought to committing to Iowa publically to perhaps help Iowa’s recruiting efforts with other players? In saying that, I mean that you are a highly rated player nationally, and it might have helped the Iowa staff on the recruiting trails if they could have mentioned that you were in the fold?

I talked about that with Coach Ferentz, and he said though it would be nice, it would be up to me and he told me to do what I wanted. In fact, he told me that I should just do it on national TV.

I told him that some of the key players they wanted would be at this game, and I could come down here and be with them and let them know, and still be able to commit on national television, which will be pretty cool.

Your parents really invested a lot of time in this process, as well as some resources. How does that make you feel?

We went out to California on Spring break, but that was a planned family vacation. We worked a few unofficial visits in then. It was great of them to take the time out to drive me around to so many schools. My dad played football for such a long time and my mom loves the game. I guess they felt that with their son having a chance to play and be fortunate enough to get interest from so many great programs, they felt that it would be good to take me to see a lot of schools. I am very grateful for the time and resources they gave up to help me.

When you and your father were driving back from many of those visits, were your conversations along the lines of comparing and contrasting the visit with your feelings about Iowa?

Yes, that is basically how it went. I liked some other schools along the way, and there were great things about some schools. We would talk about that, and there were a few times where I might have liked a visit more than Iowa, but that would only last for a day or two. I would come back and get the glamour out of my mind and get back to thinking about what I wanted in a school, and it always came back to Iowa.

Dace Richardson also committed to Iowa on the same weekend that you did (December 10th visit). Were you surprised when you heard that?

No. I was thrilled. We are getting lots of good guys to come here. Trey, Dace, Jake, Bain…I am really excited. I just can’t believe we are all down here together at this all star game. I wish we could get it going sooner rather than waiting until the summer.

I noticed during this All Star week that the ‘Iowa contingent’ has been rat packing together with some of the kids who were still undecided, like (at the time of this interview) Tony Moeaki and David Nelson.

We are constantly on each other and seeing what we are thinking. They are all good guys and we want them to come to Iowa.

You and I have talked about you being someone ‘lonely’ during this process, from the sense that you don’t have anyone else at your school who has gone through this. Was it nice to be around all of these highly recruited players?

It is nice and it’s comforting to see guys in your same position. You can talk about the problems they have faced, and I shared mine. We can just talk and get together on things and that is great. We can get some things off our chest.

Your younger brother Tyler has been with you nearly every step of the way in this process. Was that neat to experience that with him?

I think he has had a fun time with it. He has met all of the coaches. I have really enjoyed spending time with him. I hope that he has learned a lot through this and help him become a better player in the future.

When you watched Iowa play against LSU in the bowl game, that was the first Hawkeye game you were able to watch since you had committed to Kirk Ferentz. Take me through your experience in watching that game.

Most of the times I watch games, I am used to being in the game and in those situations, I never get too high when I watch football.

But for some reason during that game, I could feel it in my stomach…everything that was happening, I could feel it. Then I was freaking out at the end of the game, saying ‘We have to get something! We have to get something!’ And Tate threw that pass, and I jumped so high in our basement that I hit my head on the ceiling. My mom was upstairs in the kitchen and my dad, my brother and me were in the basement. She thought my dad had died because we were screaming so loud. It was fun. It was amazing. It was just a different feeling from anything I have ever had.

Jake Christensen has talked about putting the pieces together in this recruiting class and building towards national championships at Iowa. Iowa fans love to hear that sort of talk, of course. Have you ever thought of that taking place at Iowa and how you and your peers would be remembered?

That would be amazing. Iowa fans deserve it, because they always stick with their team through thick and thin. They are diehard and to think about the future, with the talent we have coming to Iowa and thinking about a national championship, it’s just amazing. I want to get to Iowa and start working to that goal, pushing my teammates and get everyone focusing on that goal.

Jon Miller would like to personally thank Dan Doering for his time over the last 11 months, as well as thanking his father, Rick, for the access he allowed us with his son. We all know that Dan is a highly rated prospect for his abilities on the field, but the entire Doering family is off the charts when it comes to the only rankings that matter; quality, character and integrity.

Hello from San Antonio (Pictures Included) - Scout

Hello from San Antonio
By Gary Housteau**
Date: Jan 14, 2005

I've spent most of this first day in San Antonio learning the ropes as well as all of the things that the media is allowed to do and all the things we're not allowed to do. The players have been following a strict schedule today and access to them has been hard to come by. Overall it's a great atmosphere here and everyone is excited for the 1 p.m. (est) kickoff that will be televised by NBC.

May day began at the airport in Cleveland early this morning when all of the sudden I was surrounded by a group of Glenville Tarblooders who were on the same flight to San Antonio as I was.

Daven Jones and Bryant Browning missed the group photo so I got them before we all hopped on the plane.

When I made it to the media center at the Sheridan Gunter in down San Antonio, I was able to catch Rico McCoy and Brian Cushing being interviewed by Scout.com's Chril Pool (The players were on their way to a pep rally to promote the game so I didn't have a chance to speak with McCoy before he had to leave).

After I met Chris Pool, I then had a chance to meet Jamie Newberg. Those of you who follow recruiting on this network know that Pool and Newberg are recruiting analysts.

With no access to players any time on the horizon, I took a pleasant stroll over to the River Walk where a pep rally was slated to take place.

And just as I got there, the players were arriving on the river.

Both sides briefly entertained those in attendance at the rally. Here Jamaal Charles (21) and Martellus Bennett (44) pump up the crowd.

While Earl Heyman sang a mellow tune.

Jamario O'Neal is healthy and ready to go.

And Alex Boone has been wooing everyone down here this week.

They're both proud to be representing Ohio State in the game.

On Saturday, we'll finally find out where Maurice Wells will go.

And Rico McCoy as well.

Trey Stross is proud to be an Iowa Hawkeye.

Adam Myers-White will announce his official on Saturday.

There were cheerleaders at the pep rally.

And there was a band as well.

And then the players loaded their boats and went to an awards banquet. Then it'll be time for a good night's rest before the game in the morning.
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