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Recruiting News - 01/30/05

Discussion in '2005/January' started by 3yardsandacloud, Feb 1, 2005.

  1. 3yardsandacloud

    3yardsandacloud Administrator Emeritus

    <font color="#b90000">Sunday, January 30, 2005</font> Recruiting News - 01/30/05

    St. V-M standout to declare on ESPN - Akron Beacon Journal

    Posted on Sun, Jan. 30, 2005

    St. V-M standout to declare on ESPN

    St. Vincent-St. Mary senior football standout Lawrence Wilson still hasn't decided on which college to attend.

    Wilson's father, Eugene Wilson, said the 6-6, 230-pounder who also is the starting center on the Irish basketball team, will have his announcement televised live by ESPN on Wednesday at the Beacon Journal during national letter of intent signing day.

    Eugene Wilson said after his son's announcement on Wednesday, Lawrence Wilson will go back to St. V-M to officially sign.

    Wilson, a first-team Division IV All-Ohio defensive end, has narrowed his choices to Ohio State, Florida, Notre Dame and Michigan.

    Iowa in a different class in recruiting battle - Chicago Sun Times

    Iowa in a different class in recruiting battle

    January 30, 2005


    Iowa could make recruiting history this week.

    For the first time since 1969, when Purdue signed a fistful of future NFL players from the Chicago area, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State have failed to win the Big Ten recruiting derby. Iowa claimed the prize this season, also by landing a talented group of Chicago-area prospects.

    It isn't a done deal, of course. Recruiting isn't over until the last signee arrives on campus. While Iowa has completed its recruiting for the year, Michigan still is in pursuit of some blue-chippers and could overtake the Hawkeyes during the signing period that begins Wednesday.

    Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, a former NFL assistant with a reputation for developing superb offensive linemen, wooed the cream of the crop in Barrington's Dan Doering and Wheaton-Warrenville South's Dace Richardson, a pair of 6-6, 300-pounders who hope to follow in the tradition of Eric Steinbach, Robert Gallery and Mike Jones.

    Ferentz also is expected to sign three other talented suburban prospects: quarterback Jake Christensen of Lockport, tight end Tony Moeaki of Wheaton South and defensive lineman Ryan Bain of Bolingbrook. Each is ranked among the top 100 players in the nation.

    "This is Iowa's best class in at least 30 years,'' recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of said. "In the past, Iowa has been under the radar in recruiting. No one took notice of them. But now everybody is taking notice with five All-Americans from Chicago.''

    A year ago, Iowa was shut out in Chicago. But Ferentz, recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson and assistant coach Lester Erb, who concentrates on the city and suburbs, were determined to make a turnaround. Another recruiting plus is Chris Doyle, who is acknowledged as the leading strength coach in the nation. He played a key role in landing Doering and Richardson.

    IOWA: The class is much more than Chicago. Wide receiver Trey Stross is another top-100 player. Ferentz got three potential All-Americans from Iowa, including defensive lineman Alex Kanellis. The Hawkeyes also got center Rafael Eubanks of Roseville, Minn., who turned down Notre Dame, and the No. 1 fullback in the nation, Kalvin Bailey of Seffner, Fla.

    MICHIGAN: The Wolverines got five top-100 players, including Kevin Grady, one of the nation's best running backs. They also got offensive lineman David Moosman of Libertyville. They still are in the hunt for two more big-timers: defensive end James McKinney of Louisville, Ky., and defensive back Nic Harris of Alexandria, La.

    OHIO STATE: As usual, the Buckeyes got what they wanted in Ohio. They have three top-100 players -- offensive lineman Alex Boone, defensive back Jamario O'Neal and running back Maurice Wells -- and are seeking two more in running back Jason Gwaltney and defensive lineman Walker Ashley. They also got defensive end Lawrence Wilson, who had committed to Notre Dame.

    PURDUE: The Boilermakers got the two best players in Indiana in defensive end J.B. Paxson of Greenwood and wide receiver Selwyn Lymon of Fort Wayne. They came into Chicago to get offensive lineman Eric Hedstrom of Prospect, defensive linemen Alex Magee of Oswego and Keyon Brown of Thornton and one of last year's standouts, linebacker Kyle Williams of Bolingbrook, and are hoping to land Callahan Bright, one of the nation's best defensive linemen.

    PENN STATE: This is coach Joe Paterno's fastest class in years. Wide receiver/kick returner Derrick Williams and defensive back Justin King are top-100 players. Two sprinters to watch are wide receiver Knowledge Timmons of York, Pa., and cornerback Willie Harriott of New Haven, Conn.

    WISCONSIN: The class is headed by home-grown linebacker Travis Beckum, who Lemming says has LaVar Arrington potential. The Badgers landed three Chicago-area players: running back Dion Foster of Richards and defensive linemen Terrance Jamison of Thornton and O'Brien Schofield of North Chicago.

    NORTHWESTERN: Running back Tyrell Sutton, the player of the year in Ohio, has potential be a difference-maker. Other standouts are linebacker Chris Jeske of Joliet Catholic, quarterbacks Mike Kafka of St. Rita and Eric Peterman of Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin, defensive back Brendan Smith of New Hampton, N.H., and offensive lineman Kurt Mattes of Plymouth, Pa.

    MICHIGAN STATE: The Spartans stumbled when they lost recruiting coordinator Reggie Mitchell to Illinois. Running back A.J. Jimmerson of Florissant, Mo., heads the class. Ryan Allison, a speedy receiver from Lake Orion, Mich., is another standout.

    MINNESOTA: The Gophers lost the top four prospects in Minnesota but recouped by landing five players from Ohio. Their top recruits are wide receiver Alex Daniels of Columbus, Ohio, and quarterback Marcel Jones of Shakopee, Minn.

    ILLINOIS: It's no surprise the Illini struggled because of the lateness of coach Ron Zook's hiring. Niles West's Rashard Mendenhall, one of the nation's best running backs, is a difference-maker. Others to watch are defensive end Doug Pilcher of Hinsdale Central, quarterback Paul Blalock of Waubonsie Valley and defensive back Andre Powell of Pahokee, Fla.

    INDIANA: Terry Hoeppner, the Hoosiers' new coach, had even less time to recruit than Zook. All of the state's top prospects went elsewhere. The best signees are defensive back Brandon Summers of Southfield, Mich., and offensive lineman Paul Backowski of Foley, Minn.

    Recruiting Report - Chicago Sun Times

    ... OHIO STATE: The Buckeyes got off to a good start but are limping toward the finish line. They could drop out of the top 10 if they fail to land running back Jason Gwaltney and defensive lineman Walker Ashley. Running back Maurice Wells was a big catch ...

    No recruits here for OSU - Warren Tribune Chronicle

    No recruits here for OSU

    By DAVE BURCHAM Tribune Chronicle

    For the first time in recent seasons, it appears that Ohio State will not have a football recruit from the Mahoning Valley.
    Who could blame Jim Tressel for shying away from this part of Northeastern Ohio with all the trouble that kids from this area have taken to Columbus?

    Maurice Clarett and Louis Irizarry, two of the most talented football players this area has ever produced, never reached the heights that seemed destined for them.

    Clarett has a national championship ring and several cell phones that he can pawn if his professional football aspirations fall short.

    But it is Irizarry, now serving time for his part in an assault/robbery of an OSU student, who is the biggest disappointment. The former Ursuline star was destined for greatness as a tight end in the mold of a healthy Kellen Winslow, Jr.

    It's not that Tressel isn't trying. He wanted Mario Manningham, but the Raider receiver believes he will be a better fit at Michigan.

    The Buckeyes offered Kyle McCarthy of Cardinal Mooney, but family loyalty to Notre Dame sealed that deal.

    Gina Martini, a fourth grader at Prospect School in Girard, has been selected to sing the National Anthem at Gund Arena on March 18 before the Cleveland Cavaliers play the Philadelphia 76ers.

    Gina, 9, is a member of Easy Street Productions of Youngstown. She has been a cast member of four local musical productions including Hansel & Gretel Opera at YSU, Pagliacci at Stambaugh Auditorium and this past holiday season "Miracle on Easy Street.''

    She is active with her school choir and participates in sports and is a Girard Youth Football Cheerleader.

    Gina has performed at YSU sporting events and many Veterans Day programs including "The Laying of the Roses'' in downtown Youngstown. She has performed the anthem more than 125 times.

    A special package of game tickets along with a bus provided by Fab Limo of Youngstown will leave from downtown Girard. Call 330-766-1529 for more information.

    The Ponderosa Steak House, 3581 Elm Rd., has joined with the Korey Stringer Community Fund (KSCF) to present Football Month in February.

    Place your order and tell the cashier that you support the Korey Stringer Community Fund. Each time you do, Ponderosa will donate 10 percent of your receipt to the KSCF.

    Ponderosa also will donate $1 to the KSCF from every order of wings sold during February.

    Robiskie Back From Ohio State With Slight Leader - Rivals PREMIUM

    January 30, 2005
    Robiskie Back From Ohio State With Slight Leader
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Staff *
    When Chagrin Falls (Ohio) High School wide receiver Brian Robiskie visited Miami two weeks ago, he liked what he saw. But he stuck with a plan to visit Ohio State this weekend, leading many Cane fans to believe he'll become a Buckeye. So what's the story now that Robiskie has gotten a taste of both programs? Read on!

    Robiskie thinking things over - Rivals PREMIUM

    January 30, 2005
    Robiskie thinking things over

    Bill Kurelic *
    Chagrin Falls, Ohio, wide receiver Brian Robiskie, who previously made an official visit to Miami, is on his way home from his official visit this weekend to Ohio State. What did he say about the trip and has Robiskie made a decision? If not, when will he?

    McKinney sets announcement date - Rivals PREMIUM

    January 30, 2005
    McKinney sets announcement date

    Josh Helmholdt *
    Stating he was considering making his announcement during his team's football banquet Sunday (Jan. 30) evening, Louisville (Ky.) Central defensive tackle James McKinney has reached a decision -- but not the one everyone has been waiting for.

    McKinney announcement on its way - Rivals PREMIUM

    January 30, 2005
    McKinney announcement on its way

    Josh Helmholdt *
    Four-star, top 100 prospect James McKinney out of Louisville Central High School in Kentucky first appeared to be one of the early class of 2005 prospects to make a commitment. In November of his junior year, the 6-2, 280-pound defensive end verbally pledged to Michigan after receiving a scholarship offer. One decommitment and a long recruiting battle later, McKinney is on the verge of making that commitment again, but will it be Michigan this time?

    Ohio State lands Indiana back - Rivals PREMIUM

    January 30, 2005
    Ohio State lands Indiana back

    Bill Kurelic *
    Going into his official visit to Ohio State Indianapolis (Ind.) Franklin Central wide receiver and defensive back Donald Washington said he would probably commit to the Buckeyes on the trip, and that is exactly what happened.

    The Recruiting Blitz - Dayton Daily News

    The Recruiting Blitz

    Coaches, players cope with the pressures of college football's talent search

    By Kyle Nagel
    Dayton Daily News

    Brandon Harrison wanted to accept immediately. It was the early winter of 2002, and the Chaminade-Julienne High School defensive back had just received his first football scholarship offer, from the University of Iowa.

    As a sophomore, Harrison didn't yet know the scrutiny he would face in his next two seasons, or the weight of expectations that would follow him after many more offers. He was excited just to get his first.

    "I didn't even look at the coaching staff, their record, who the players were," said Harrison, who has since given his oral agreement to attend the University of Michigan. "I didn't know any of that. All I knew was they wanted me, and I wanted a scholarship."

    As the football recruiting game has evolved — it will come to its annual peak Wednesday, the first day recruits can sign a National Letter of Intent — all sides continue to face intense pressure. College coaches have to out-charm and out-sell one another in offering scholarships earlier and earlier, and high school coaches want as many of their players to receive collegiate opportunities as possible.

    In the middle stand the players. While family and friends generally want them to be careful with their college decisions, it's difficult to keep a level head when hand-written notes from the nation's elite roll in on a near-daily basis. And then they must perform, so they can prove that they've earned the offer.

    "The whole process has sped up, and I think all parties have to try to slow it down a little bit," University of Cincinnati coach Mark Dantonio said. "I think anything you do in football, like in life, if you slow down and re-collect yourself, it's better for you."

    Players in demand

    By May of a player's junior year, when the NCAA allows in-person evaluations, the process begins a mad dash to the finish. Even for the players who don't attract mass interest until after their junior seasons — such as Miamisburg defensive back David Bruton — it can be overwhelming.

    "Last May, it seemed like I was always out of class meeting coaches, three or four times a day," said Bruton, who committed to Notre Dame on June 29. "My coach had my schedule, so he would send for me when a college coach came. During some periods, it seems like you have no time to yourself until at night, but then you're making up the class work."

    And sometimes, the college coaches show up at uncomfortable times for the high school coaches, too.

    "The college recruiting season can seriously interrupt the high school season, especially if your team is in the playoffs," said Ed Maloney, coach at Father Gabriel Richard High School in Ann Arbor, Mich., and chairman of the American Football Coaches Association High School Committee.

    Maloney, a 1969 University of Dayton graduate, has watched the process change during his 29-year coaching career. Fifteen years ago, it was rare for a college to offer a scholarship until after a recruit finished his senior season. Now, as the offers come earlier, so do the commitments.

    "Assistant coaches will drop in on Friday night an hour or two before a game or call a recruit before that game," Maloney said. "That's the worst time for us, but it's the only time that works for them, and we know for our kids to have a shot we have to play along.

    "The assistant coaches will admit they don't like visiting at those times, and we don't like them here at those times, but it's just how things have progressed."

    Or, as C-J coach Jim Place said: "It's a runaway train, and I don't know who can stop it."

    Fewer full rides

    In 1992, the NCAA cut the number of football scholarships for Division I-A from 95 to 85. That number had been as high as 105 in the 1970s.

    That means, on average, teams can scholarship five fewer players per class than they did 30 years ago. With fewer scholarships available, the pressure increases to fill rosters with quality players.

    For the players, fewer scholarships mean their offer could dry up.

    "In the past, these kids were being recruited until the middle of January, still thinking they had a chance with Ohio State," Miami University coach Shane Montgomery said. "Now, with 85 scholarships, if it's not going to happen they'll know earlier."

    Or, it means an uncomfortable phone call could come in the middle of a player's senior season.

    "It's called a squeeze," Place said. "Let's say you're a defensive tackle and have an offer you like. The school will call you up and say, 'We're going to take four at your position, and we have three in, what's it going to be?'

    "Nobody likes this system, but it's the system."

    So, the players often rush into decisions. Meanwhile, every Friday night feels like another test, and the tests become more difficult as the season progresses.

    "There's a big pressure to perform," Bruton said. "The eyes are on you. Everyone's wondering what you're going to do, and when you're not playing, everyone wants to know where you're going to go. It's hard to get away from it."

    There have been some suggestions for slowing the process. John Maronto, an AFCA High School Committee member who gave a presentation about recruiting to high school coaches earlier this month at the AFCA convention in Louisville, Ky., thinks that Signing Day should be delayed from the first Wednesday in February to the first Wednesday in March. College coaches could wait longer to offer scholarships and give recruits more time to consider choices.

    "I've been fortunate to have scholarshipped over 200 players in my career," said Maronto, who coaches Mainland High School in Daytona Beach, Fla., and formerly coached Massillon Washington, "and I've never seen such a level of disregard and disrespect."

    Phones keep ringing

    The pressure doesn't always end when a player commits, either. Even after Robby Schoenhoft, the quarterback from Cincinnati's St. Xavier High School, gave his commitment to Ohio State last summer, other schools kept calling.

    "Michigan called until I said no five times in a row," Schoenhoft said.

    When Schoenhoft would phone other Ohio State recruits to talk about the school, he sometimes met with a curt "who is this?" from players whose patience whittled after constant calls from coaches and Internet recruiting gurus. Some established certain times reporters could contact them.

    In fact, for some high school players, their recruitment turns into its own soap opera for the public to see. At the U.S. Army All-American Bowl each January, the most sought-after recruits yet to commit stand in front of an athletic bag on television. They reach in and place the hat of their college coach on their head, making the announcement a reality TV segment.

    For players, the recruiting process has become a test of mental strength as well as playing ability.

    "It's like Darwin said," laughed Schoenhoft. "Survival of the fittest."


    Robiskie thinking things over - Rivals PREMIUM

    January 30, 2005
    Robiskie thinking things over

    Bill Kurelic Recruiting Analyst *
    Chagrin Falls, Ohio, wide receiver Brian Robiskie, who previously made an official visit to Miami, is on his way home from his official visit this weekend to Ohio State. What did he say about the trip and has Robiskie made a decision? If not, when will he?

    Buckeyes add another to recruiting haul - Rivals PREMIUM

    January 30, 2005
    Buckeyes add another to recruiting haul

    Chris Nida Staff Writer *
    It took until nearly the final week of the recruiting process for Indianapolis Franklin Central star Donald Washington to receive a scholarship offer from Ohio State, but the Buckeyes' late arrival apparently didn't hurt them in his eyes. Before leaving Columbus following his official visit to the Ohio State campus this weekend, Washington issued head coach Jim Tressel his verbal commitment.

    Experts Agree OSU Effort Doing Just Fine - Rivals PREMIUM

    January 30, 2005
    Experts Agree OSU Effort Doing Just Fine

    Chris Nida Staff Writer *
    At one point, it was thought that the number of signees in Ohio State's 2005 recruiting class could reach at least 20. Currently stuck on 15 commitments, it now appears that the recruiting class will be lucky to reach 18, leaving some wondering why the coaching staff isn't actively recruiting more potential Buckeyes. But those who know the recruiting game best aren't surprised by the staff's approach.

    Thoma Reflects On Visit, Discusses Dilemma - Bucknuts PREMIUM

    Thoma Reflects On Visit, Discusses Dilemma
    By Steve Helwagen
    Date: Jan 30, 2005

    Louisville (Ohio) St. Thomas Aquinas punter Jonathan Thoma made an official visit to Ohio State. But a late twist could make a big difference for Thoma, who is considering a chance to be a preferred walk-on at OSU.

    Wilson Will Decide Wednesday - Bucknuts PREMIUM

    Wilson Will Decide Wednesday
    By Dave Biddle
    Date: Jan 30, 2005

    Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary defensive end Lawrence Wilson will make his decision Wednesday on ESPN. It is down to Ohio State, Notre Dame and Florida, with the latter being a darkhorse candidate. We caught up with Wilson for the latest on his situation.

    Robiskie Weighs Options After OSU Visit - Bucknuts PREMIUM

    Robiskie Weighs Options After OSU Visit
    By Steve Helwagen
    Date: Jan 30, 2005

    Chagrin Falls, Ohio, wide receiver Brian Robiskie has wrapped up his official visit to Ohio State. Click here for the latest on this Ohio standout and where things stand.

    Washington Verbals During OSU Visit - Bucknuts

    Washington Verbals During OSU Visit
    By Steve Helwagen Managing Editor
    Date: Jan 30, 2005

    Indianapolis Franklin Central wide receiver/defensive back Donald Washington became OSU's 16th verbal commitment during his weekend official visit. Click this free link for more.

    Prior to his visit to Ohio State this weekend, Indianapolis Franklin Central wide receiver/defensive back Donald Washington was said to consider playing at Ohio State as a “dream.”

    Washington (6-2, 185, 4.45) made that dream come true when he verbaled to the Buckeyes over Indiana and Illinois.

    “It’s the tradition,” Washington said. “I like it there and I liked the people there.”

    Washington was hosted by Shaun Lane, but he said he got along “with all of them.

    “This was the first time I got to see the stadium in person and it was impressive as well.”

    He was a fine-two way player for Franklin Central, which finished its season 6-4. Washington had 45 catches for 800 yards and 10 TDs. He also had four picks (2 for TDs) and 2 fumble recoveries. Washington reports a 3.2 GPA and a 19 ACT.

    As a junior, Washington recorded over 40 receptions for 800 yards and 13 touchdowns while playing the entire season with a broken foot. Prior to that, he became the first sophomore in Indiana High School history to win the state long jump.

    “They’re looking at me as a safety,” Washington said. “I think they like my height and my hitting ability. I really like (defensive backs coach Mel) Tucker. He’s a great guy.”

    When asked when he became an Ohio State fan, Washington said, “Probably since 2002, when they won the national championship.”

    Washington said he enjoyed a chance to also speak with OSU head coach Jim Tressel.

    “I talked to him yesterday,” Washington said. “Everything he had to say was good.”

    Washington, who holds a 3.2 GPA and scored a 19 on the ACT, becomes OSU’s 16th verbal commitment in a class that could number between 18 and 20.

    Gwaltney Still Hasn't Made Up His Mind - Bucknuts

    Gwaltney Still Hasn't Made Up His Mind
    By Duane Long
    Date: Jan 30, 2005

    We had a chance to get a few quick words with five-star running back Jason Gwaltney of North Babylon, N.Y. a few moments ago. It sounds like everyone will know Gwaltney's decision when Jason does.

    There was word that running back Jason Gwaltney of North Babylon, N.Y. was going to take one final unofficial visit to West Virginia this weekend, but Gwaltney said he stuck around at home.

    "I didn't go to West Virginia this weekend," he said. "I'm sticking with my schedule. I'm going to be making my announcement on Tuesday."

    When asked if he knew what school he was going to, Gwaltney, who had his last in-home visit from a coach on Thursday, was adamant that he didn't know yet.

    "I absolutely do not," he said. "It's still the same three schools. I'm not sure right now, but I'll know by Tuesday."

    Gwaltney is expected to announce his decision Tuesday on ESPN News.

    The 5-11, 235-pound Gwaltney is ranked as the nation's eighth-best running back by He is also listed at No. 43 on's list of the country's top 100 recruits. He is also the No. 2 prospect in the state, behind QB Greg Paulus and one spot ahead of OSU verbal DE Doug Worthington.

    The list of Gwaltney's records and accomplishments as a prep player is fairly long, including:

    * His career mark of 7,800 yards on 948 carries (8.2 average) with 135 touchdowns. The TD mark is a county record -- nearly twice as many as the previous record holder.

    * His senior season total of 2,882 yards on 358 carries (8.1 average) with 45 touchdowns in just 11 games.

    * His junior season marks of 2,601 yards on 295 carries (8.8 average) with 45 TDs.

    * His showing in his final game, a 43-14 rout of Garden City in the Class II Long Island title game. He had an interception, a sack and a fumble forced on defense and finished with 237 yards and four touchdowns rushing and one TD catch on offense.

    * His New York state record of nine touchdowns in one game.

    * His 33 TD runs of 40 yards or longer, including 27 that were 50 yards or longer.

    Babb Bits - Running Down The Remaining Targets - Bucknuts

    Babb Bits - Running Down The Remaining Targets
    By Staff
    Date: Jan 30, 2005

    There are five prospects who as of Sunday morning, still had not let their decision be known. Who's going to wind up where? Charles Babb checks in with some opinions and gives some guesses as to which players may wind up being Buckeyes.

    With recruiting almost at a close, the Buckeyes are looking seriously only at a few remaining targets. Given possible leaders and destinations, let’s take a look at each one:

    Brian Robiskie

    What would cause him to choose Ohio State? For starters, there is the distance factor. His father is an assistant coach in Cleveland. With it looking possible he might keep his job under a new boss, Robiskie’s family would be close enough to watch him play. There is also the depth chart at wideout for the Buckeyes. They are bringing in several wideouts this year, but even so could be thin. Albert Dukes may or may not be around at this time next year depending on his legal issues, and Bam Childress and John Hollins have finished their eligibility. One injury could see an incoming freshman on the field for four and five wide receiver sets all season. Also of note is the success Ohio State has had at the position at the NFL level. Michael Jenkins, Chris Gamble, Ken Yon Rambo, Terry Glenn, Chris Sanders, and Joey Galloway among others have had more than a cup of coffee in the NFL over the last decade.

    What would cause him not to choose Ohio State? When the Florida schools come calling it is very difficult to resist. Though statistically they actually do not call many more pass plays than Ohio State, the reputation and the perception is that Florida schools (like Miami and Florida) are pass happy while the Buckeyes are not. With his father’s job status still uncertain, it may be that his family is not going to be living in Ohio after all, and Robiskie has stated point blank distance from home is not an issue. Further, the depth chart at Miami (who is also recruiting him) is about equal to that of the Buckeyes; both schools could use a body or two at wide receiver despite having what looks to be an outstanding nucleus returning for 2005 and 2006. Finally, it may not be a big deal to some recruits, but Miami offered before the Buckeyes. If this is important to Robiskie, then he could be Florida bound.

    My Guess? With his family in Ohio and his father a coach for Cleveland, Robiskie will stay close to home. He can do that by playing Columbus. Since neither depth chart offers a significant advantage, the Buckeyes have to be considered the favorite for his services.

    Jason Gwaltney

    What would cause him to choose Ohio State? Without question, Gwaltney would challenge for the starting tailback job from day one. There would be no waiting in line behind several other upperclassmen or a heisman candidate. Reggie Bush and LenDale White both play at USC, but there is no returning starter in Columbus. Also, the Buckeyes have started underclassmen and even a freshman tailback under Tressel, proving they will play the best man for the job. They could start another if Gwaltney were to choose the Scarlet and Gray. Gwaltney could become the 2005 version of Adrian Peterson or Maurice Clarett (in a good way only) in Columbus or a bench warmer in California. He would be closer to his family, and they could undoubtedly see him play more in Columbus than L.A. Perhaps most alluring is the reality that while quarterbacks win the Heisman at USC these days, the tailback is still going to be the center of the offense in Columbus. No less than five tailbacks have won Heisman trophies at Ohio State - the most at one position for any single program in the history of the award.

    What would cause him to go to USC? Last year Pete Carroll made a load of promises to recruits. Undoubtedly Carroll is making promises about playing time to Gwaltney right now, and Gwaltney - at just 17-18 years of age probably believes him. A recent article even quoted Gwaltney where he claims Carroll told him they needed a big back because LenDale White is injury prone… Huh? White had over 140 carries as a freshman and 200 as a sophomore - and this guy is supposedly brittle and in need of a backup? Further, Norm Chow is the guy everyone wants to play for if they are on the offensive side of the football. Never mind that Chow could be leaving soon (the Titans are hard after him as their offensive coordinator) or that the NFL is reportedly set on giving Carroll another shot as well. Also, despite having a campus located closer to the bad section of town than the beach, the weather has to look more appealing (especially this time of the year) than that of Columbus or West Virginia.

    My Guess? Don’t laugh at youthful naiveté, but Gwaltney may honestly believe he would play along with Bush and White. Who knows but that he might have already been promised the moon and stars above by USC’s staff. Fred Davis also believed these coaches after being promised all sorts of playing time and then was first moved to tight end in the fall, and finally sat the bench in 2004. However, the brutal reality that while Ohio State’s third and fourth string backs carried the ball for over 100 times together, USC’s third and fourth string tailbacks were given only 59 carries in 2004. White and Bush were the only two with significant carries and while only one of the top 4 rushers at tailback return for Ohio State, all four of those return for USC - among them are two sophomores and a freshman. If Gwaltney listens to Carroll, he will be in California next fall sitting on the bench behind four returning players; if he looks at the depth chart and reality - he probably stays closer to home and may start at Ohio State in 2005. Prediction? Gwaltney swallows the lines of Carroll, follows in the footsteps of Fred Davis, and mostly rides the pine in 2005 and 2006 instead of starting in Columbus.

    Walker Ashley

    What would cause him to go to Ohio State? The Buckeyes do return both starting defensive tackles, but if Ashley is quick enough, defensive end looks to need serious attention in 2005. Mike Kudla and Jay Richardson are both serviceable, but both have been injury prone. Vernon Gholston appeared ready to take the next step by the end of the season, but that is not a sure thing either. Joel Penton plays as much inside as out, and he lacks the quickness to reach the quarterback consistently from the outside. Redgie Arden has yet to play decisive minutes anywhere due to off field issues. That leaves just a couple of freshman who redshirted and the incoming recruits between Ashley and the field. Also of note was the fact that Ashley spoke highly of the way Ohio State has recruited him as a person instead of just as a football player. Defensive line coach Jim Heacock is not going anywhere, and since 2002 last three years, none of his starters on the Buckeye defensive line have gone undrafted by the NFL. Finally, the Buckeyes are a puzzle piece or two from making a serious national title run in 2005, and one of those is along the defensive line…

    What would cause him to go to USC? Well, one might want to take a look at what Pete Carroll is doing in recruiting these days. With a promise in one hand and a passel of assistant coaches in tow, Carroll is landing almost whomever he wants. His in home visit was said to be impressive, and Carroll apparently waxed eloquent about the depth chart and where Ashley might fit at USC. He also said that there was nothing to worry about with the distance factor (though Jarrett and Davis might dispute this assertion). Though the Trojans are incredibly deep at both defensive end and defensive tackle, Ashley may honestly believe he could start. Like Ohio State, USC may be gearing for another title run in 2005 and Ashley may decide he fits better in California.

    My Guess? See Gwaltney. I truly have no idea what Carroll is selling these young men. Despite the likelihood of assistants leaving and even the NFL courting Carroll, top players are flocking to USC like moths to a flame. They have to know they cannot all see the field, but each seems to believe they will after talking with the coaching staff. My guess is Ashley ends up somewhere other than Ohio State.

    Lawrence Wilson

    What would cause him to come to Ohio State? First and foremost is the reality that Ohio State is not only the in state school, but it has stayed with him throughout the course of the recruiting year. When Notre Dame fired its coach after assuring the family Willingham’s job was secure, Wilson decommitted and looked around to see Jim Tressel still interested. Those that fired his would be coach are still pulling the strings in South Bend, and that may mean something in the end. Also there is the depth chart; the Buckeyes are in need at the defensive end position. Ashley, Worthington, and Wilson could find themselves playing meaningful minutes and if talented enough - starting for the Scarlet and Gray. The instability of Notre Dame and the program’s recent fortunes might also be a concern. Notre Dame just fired its head coach after three seasons and since 1996 has had five head coaches (Lou Holtz, Bob Davie, George O’Leary, Ty Willingham, and now Charlie Weis). Notre Dame has not won a single bowl game or finished in the top ten in over a decade while Ohio State has five wins (three in a row), a national title, and two second place finishes as well as a sixth and a fourth in that span. Worse for Notre Dame is the reality that there is absolutely no proof that a career assistant (Weis) who has spent his time in the pros can transform a troubled college program into a winner. Meanwhile, Jim Tressel can pull out any of his five national championship rings to show he knows what it takes. The sure bet both for his career and the stability of the program is Ohio State.

    What could cause him to go to Notre Dame? For the longest time Wilson appears to have been looking for a reason not to play in Columbus. From his original commitment to Willingham to his refusal to cross out the Domers from his list to even considering a visit to Michigan recently - he appears to want to go somewhere other than Ohio State. That ‘somewhere else’ has mostly been Notre Dame, and thus the Golden Domers have to be considered the favorites in this two horse race until proven otherwise. If Weis is able to smooth over matters with the broken promises and Willingham’s incredibly early dismissal (three years and one of those was a 10 win season), then Wilson could be headed to South Bend. Notre Dame is not that far from his family, and despite the depth chart being loaded against him playing early - a team with as many losses as Notre Dame over the last decade is clearly a program in need of a talent infusion.

    My Guess? Wilson appears to really want to go to Notre Dame. He is uncertain and rightfully so. Notre Dame has been under whelming on the field for the last decade and its firing (or resignation) of no less than five coaches in just the last nine seasons has to be some sort of record in the modern era. Right now this seems to be a coin flip, but I will guess that if he really wanted to be a Buckeye he would have chosen a while back.

    Donald Washington

    What would cause him to come to Ohio State? As of right now, the Buckeyes are the most powerful football program to have offered Washington, and they see his athleticism fitting in at safety. 2005 would likely be a season for him to get his feet wet and play on special teams and in mop up duty behind Salley and Donte Whitner with an eye on starting in 2006 or beyond. Ohio State has had phenomenal success in placing defensive backs in the NFL over the last decade, and this has to be attractive to any potential recruit. Nate Clements, Michael Doss, Dustin Fox, Antoine Winfield, Damon Moore, Donnie Nickey are just a few of the names who have, will, or are playing on Sundays after starting at Ohio State.

    What would cause him to go elsewhere? With his statements since December that Ohio State was his leader (even before they offered a scholarship), the Buckeyes would be tough to beat. About the only possible ways this one could fall apart is if: (A) he believes the ridiculous rumors among negative recruiting coaches that the Buckeyes are in danger of NCAA sanctions - despite the statements of NCAA president Miles Brand supporting Ohio State recently OR (B) he is playing the recruiting game and just trying to heighten the tension before a ‘surprise’ selection OR (C) he only wants to play wide receiver.

    My Guess? While Prescott Burgess blazed a path on the low road a few years back with his recruitment and desire to play games with multiple coaching staffs, I don’t think Washington will do the same. He says Ohio State leads. Ohio State it is.

    Final Count:

    Robiskie and Washington in

    Gwaltney, Ashley, and Wilson out

    Mr. Bucknuts' Bucket Of Bullets - Bucknuts

    Mr. Bucknuts' Bucket Of Bullets
    By Mr. Bucknuts
    Date: Jan 30, 2005

    Another year, another recruiting season. And once again, it was filled with bizarre twists and turns and unforgettable recruiting situations. Mr. Bucknuts has some final thoughts on this year's recruiting season as well as a look down the line at cornerback and special teams in today's Bucket of Bullets.

    Here we are, the last Sunday in January, with the anti-climax of recruiting staring us right in the face. Personally, I am looking forward to moving on. Recover? At this point, I would have to fall into an upholstery machine to be fully recovered. We invest way too much in the process. We get way too little out of it in the end. But the end is in sight!

    Most of us read theoretical reports that are factually wrong. Hey – we write some of those, too! But, please understand, we can report the words exactly as they drip out of the recruits’ mouths and still be dead wrong. They don’t know – how are we supposed to know?

    But that is not meant to cast a wide credibility net over all the media. After all, you have real journalists like the guys at ESPiN. And you have the somewhat jaded view from the athletes themselves. It was Bears defensive back, R.W. McQuarters who summarized it succinctly when he said, “Don’t get me wrong. Everything the media writes is not wrong. But I’d say 99% of it is wrong. In my opinion. But I don’t read the newspaper so I don’t know. I hear things though…”.

    * * * * *

    The weather is beautiful, glad you’re not here…So, tell the truth, how do you really feel about Maurice Clarett as he enters the NFL draft? Do you wish him well? Do you want him to go high in the draft and get the big money just because he played (part of) a year at Ohio State? Or do you want the karma gods to punish him for inflicting pain on all of us – punish him with a huge dose of hubris by making him into a lower round draft choice? After all (and after all the complaining and vanity played out by Maurice), the greatest “revenge” is that he doesn’t get a whole bunch of money for being a jerk. Isn’t it?

    And why would a pro team want to take on this train wreck? Is he a Corey Dillon or a Randy Moss and worth the grief? I can’t believe the NFL guys don’t see what us average mortals observe. Sure enough, draft analyst Jerry Jones said much the same. “He’s immature and makes very poor decisions, and he’s not that fast. And they don’t like people that sue them. He may be begging just to get into camp”.

    There you have it, Maurice. We hardly knew ye…

    * * * * *

    Is this pundit half empty or half full?… So what if the headlines this week were something like: Buckeyes Pick Up Four Five-Star Recruits and Two Four-Star Kids As Recruiting Winds Down, you’d be a little more excited, now wouldn’t you? Well, the Buckeyes have two top-ranked kids already (plus Jamario and Boone, of course…) and two more might come aboard shortly. For five stars, look no further than AJ Hawk and Santonio Holmes. Not only are they two of the best players in the country at their position, but they have proved it for two or more years. You take Dan Doering and Jake Christensen, I will take two great kids that could have gone to the NFL. Two other Great Gets are in the offing; after torturing Buckeye recruiting fans for months (and the pain is delicious, that’s why we endure it…), Doug Worthington will become a Buckeye on Wednesday. I think. And Jason Gwaltney will shock the world (and Pistol Pete) and choose Ohio State over USC. Maybe. Hey – half-full, remember?

    Oh, yeah, those four-star guys…Here’s who I was thinking of: Can we get Dareus (Superman) Hiley eligible again? Duane saw him as a CB starter by now! If he had stayed in school. And I think that Ira Guilford comes back as a four-star safety. That’s right – critics be damned, the kid has survived the public hanging and Geiger-izing and deserves a chance to play football.

    OK, maybe completely full…

    * * * * *

    The final chapter: Recruiting from the odds and ends zone…It’s the final week of recruiting “season” and the final chapter in our long-winded serial as we go position-to-position to examine needs and possibilities of Ohio State football. We have worked ourselves all the way through the offense and most of the defense, leaving just the cornerbacks and kickers. So here they are:

    Cornerbacks: Linebacker U? Running Back U? In the last decade or so, OSU has become Cornerback U., producing a torrent of talent going from Columbus to the NFL at this position. One more leaves us this year as Dustin Fox follows Chris Gamble, Ahmed Plummer, Nate Clements, Shawn Springs, Derek Ross, Antoine Winfield and others to the pay-for-play league. That leaves us future NFL-er Ashton Youboty manning one corner. And the other? I like the idea of future NFL Hall-of-Famer Ted Ginn there. If not, there will be a showdown between the Underwood brothers, Shaun Lane and Michael Roberts. Or, incoming superstar freshman Jamario O’Neal could man that spot. Or Donte Whitner could possibly slide over there. We do have options…

    Unfortunately, EJ Underwood’s talents seem to come with the curse of EJ’s problems and we can’t count on him being there (or his brother…) when the Buckeyes need him/them. Lane and Roberts haven’t played at that level and O’Neal has a learning curve to endure. That’s why I love the idea of Ginn back there (the #1 DB in the country as a senior in high school…) with some playing time relief from all of the above.

    The recruits: You have the aforementioned O’Neal, perhaps this year’s best high school cornerback and a talented Malcolm Jenkins from Jersey. Plus, latecomer Donald Washington says he’s coming. Both Andre Amos and Brian Hartline can play the position so depth isn’t a factor yet.

    Next year in Ohio? Ray Small is the next great DB from Glenville’s speed machine. Right now, he is a running back and receiver but Coach Ginn says he will be a great DB. And he should know! Jovani Chappel, from Trotwood Madison, is the other main name being bandied about.

    Punters: And if we’re not Cornerback U., we could be Punter U. In both 2002 and 2003, OSU had the best punters in the land with Andy Groom showing the way, then followed by B.J. Sander. Last season, Kyle Turano did a nice job and he would like to return for a sixth season to follow it up. If Kyle is disabused of that notion, the Buckeyes have a bunch of kickers ready to put on the shoe in The Shoe. We have scholarship punter, AJ Trapasso, who seems to be the heir apparent now that his red-shirt season and personal problems are behind him. We have scholarship punter/kicker Jonathan Skeete, who will push for the job. We have Josh Huston, who is also lobbying for a sixth year, as a capable alternative. So, OSU is loaded for the time being and possibly looking at Jonathan Thoma of Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas, who was visiting this weekend.

    Kickers: And if OSU is not Punter U., well…you get the idea. We just came off the best three years of placekicking in Ohio State history. Mike Nugent’s cleated shoes will be tough one’s to fill. The first applicant, Josh Huston, was actually there before Mike and will be there after (perhaps). That’s the only way to get playing time behind the best – go to the Six Year Plan. And behind Huston? A very patient Aaron Pettrey, who has gray-shirted and further delayed his enrollment already at the Buckeye’s behest. Pettrey is a great athlete who, like Mike, played quarterback in high school. If his leg has Petrey-fied by the time he gets to use it, there is Jonathan Skeete, once again, shooting for that opportunity. Finally, there is the mysterious Australian, Ryan Pretorius, the mid-twenties South African walk-on, who would love the opportunity.

    As with the punters, one of these kickers will work out (and will work out with kicking guru Jeff Wilkins, most likely…) and the Buckeyes shouldn’t have to look again for a few years.

    * * * * *

    As Yogi would have liked to have said…When you get to a fork in the road, make sure they don’t use it to stick it to you. Or how about: If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. Such is the grimier side of this recruiting business where the hype eats the kids and they start believing their local message boards. Two unfortunate cases in point:

    Stephen Gowland, the under-offered tight end prospect from Georgia that Ohio State seemed to pursue. He said recently, “I really don’t know what’s going on right now. Wake Forest offered me but they filled up. And Auburn still doesn’t know if they have a spot. Ohio State also offered but I haven’t spoken to them in a while. I’m thinking about walking on at Auburn.” Where was that pen when the teams were coming at Stephen to give him a free four-year education?

    Jesse Hester has been mentioned in some pretty fast company including the Buckeyes, Florida and Minnesota. So where is he headed? He says, well…he has no offers from his Top Five schools. “Florida is in front right now but none of these schools have offered me. At this point, I’m just looking to go to college and it doesn’t matter where. I had offers from schools like Maryland, Ole Miss, Indiana and Miami but they’ve filled up and don’t need me anymore. South Florida is my #2 school and it looks like they’re going to be the only school that’s going to offer. I don’t know anything about them, really. From what I’ve been told, they pass the ball well”.

    If recruiting seems confusing to those of us on the outside looking in, it can be just as confusing to those on the inside looking for a place to land. And for every Jason Gwaltney and Brian Cushing and Fred Rouse who can go wherever they want (and can announce whenever they want…), there are the Gowlands and Hesters that got chewed up by the process…

    * * * * *

    One final bullet on recruiting…As I write this, it’s early Saturday afternoon. And though we all feel a little unstuck in time by the recruiting season, it will end within the next four days or so. I will predict that, by Wednesday, Ohio State will have four more commitments.

    And, if not, they will next year…

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