Locker Room: 16 of top 25 left the state

​It’s been this way for a few years now. College football recruiting, except for where all the transfers end up, is over. Recruiting bases for almost all schools are still local. Your home state must be your bread and butter, but it’s getting harder because recruiting is much more regional and national, particularly where the big schools are concerned. By big I mean the biggest, best, and most successful programs in the nation and you know who those are. Their presence was felt again in Virginia his past recruiting cycle and no doubt, it will remain that way.

In fact, it only takes roughly 15 minutes for you to do a little research and Penn State now considers Virginia one of its most fertile recruiting grounds. It likes Virginia almost as much as its home state of Pennsylvania. It would be a big understatement to say that the Nittany Lions have become a pain in the backside to Virginia Tech and UVa. Penn State is dominating at the top of the class, and has been taking dominant players out of the state for the past five years.

Of the top 25 high school football players in the state, 14 of them went to five schools. Virginia Tech got the most with six, Penn State got three, Notre Dame, West Virginia, and Purdue each two. UVa landed only one state player.

But in the case of Penn State, the Nits got the best two. Louisa linebacker Brandon Smith and Stafford tailback Devy Ford. Both 4-star recruits. In fact, Penn St. has signed the top running back in Virginia the last two straight seasons, and three of PSU’s top backs next season will be from this state. The Nittany Lions also landed the 17th rated player, defensive end Hakem Beamon of Manchester.

The Hokies top state recruit was number five, Tayvon Robinson of Cox, Tech also got number six, wide receiver Jaden Payoute of L.C. Bird, number 11, Jahad Carter, an athlete from Henrico, number 15 Jesse Henson, an offensive lineman from Lord Botetourt, number 19 William Pritchard, an offensive lineman from Manchester, and number 24 Dean Ferguson, a safety from Potomac Mills. Landing six is not that bad. What’s bad for Tech and UVa is that much of the haul from out-of-state programs from the top.

Notre Dame got its quarterback recruit (12th rated) from Virginia in Manchester’s Brandon Clark who led his team to the Class 6 state title. The Irish also landed fourth rated Litchfield Ajavon, a 4-star defensive back from Episcopal in Alexandria. Purdue got 20th rated Camren Allen, a defensive back from Graham, and 22nd rated Kyle Bilodeau, a tight end from the Forest School. West Virginia’s two were 21st rated Ali Jennings, a wide receiver from Highland Springs, and 25th rated Donavan Weaver, an offensive tackle from Massaponex.

Clemson landed number three, S4-star Sheridan Jones from Maury, Texas A&M landed number seven in Bishop Sullivan defensive tackle Adarius Jones, Auburn got 8th rated Cam Kelly from Oscar Smith, Liberty got a big hit when it signed 9th rated Tayvien Land, a cornerback from Ocean Lakes, Stanford got the states 10th rated recruit in Salim Turveres, a corner from Episcopal, Carolina beat Tech for outside linebacker Eugene Asante from Westfield, Virginia’s lone state recruit was a good one, 4-star defensive tackle Ben Smiley of Indian River.

Florida got in the act when it landed 16th rated Jalon Jones, a corner from Henrico, 28th rated Jordan Houston, an athlete from Forrest Hills picked N.C. State, and 23rd rated Jakari Moore, an offensive tackle from Nokesville will play for the Gamecocks of South Carolina.

I Guess it Costs a Lot:

Co-offensive coordinators Tony Elliot and Jeff Scott got raises at Clemson this week. Both will make a cool million bucks each starting with the next season. That’s two mil worth of offensive coordinating. That’s a lot of coordination. Bet you can do it better with the nation’s best quarterback.

Some have wondered why Brent Venables the Clemson defensive coordinator hasn’t left to be a head coach and he certainly has had multiple opportunities. However, Venables has his son on the Clemson team and he doesn’t want to leave him. Plus, he makes the second highest defensive coordinator salary in the country at $2.2 million a year.

Raises are also due for the rest of the Clemson coaching staff. Head coach Dabo Sweeney presently makes a base salary of $6-million. Through of variety of avenues I’d say Sweeney’s earnings are likely more like 8-mil when it’s over. With complete staff raises on the way, the Tigers are likely to have the highest paid coaching staff in college football a with a base salary package of something a bit over $14-million.

Maybe it’s Safer to Stay Home:

The measures toward safety concerns seem to be moving to higher levels all the time. At the SEC Basketball Tournaments for both men and women, fans carrying anything into the facilities must do so in clear see-through bags and even then they will likely be searched anyway, and fans will also be greeted by a security police force double its previous size. Sort of makes you wonder just how far we have fallen as a people when such measures are required. Might be a good idea to use the old recliner and watch from the comforts (and safety) of him.

Daytona 500:

​      Don’t be tricked by the neon sign announcers who understandably want to put the sport of stock car racing’s best foot forward. They talk about how crazy loyal the fans are, but the stands are half empty too frequently.

NASCAR is the only sport that begins its season with its biggest event. I’m a NASCAR fan. I enjoy a good race. I don’t need a big crash to enjoy a race either. But this is a huge year for NASCAR. Ratings continue to decline, attendance at the tracks continues to fall off, major sponsors have left the sport and it is a billboard sport. Without those sponsors, the future doesn’t look as bright. There are some drivers no longer around, many have changed teams, some have changed sponsors, crews have been cut, teams have folded, and lots of cost saving changes.

Maybe NASCAR should stop making changes. It has made many over the past dozen to 15 years and none have helped, some have outright failed. Leave the sport alone which is what should happen to all the sports in this country. Leave them alone, let them stay just like they are. Almost always changes hurt. It also might be time for NASCAR to refocus on the southland, the heart of the sport.

With all the late lap pileups it’s hard to pick a winner of a race anymore, certainly at the big tracks when a simple spinout can put a dozen cars in the garage. But my favorite driver seems to get in and out of jams pretty good. I’m going to take Brad Keselowski to win the Daytona 500 Sunday. However, if he gets in an early race crash I reserve the right to change my pick.

By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot