Locker Room: Now it’s time for serious recruiting

The spring games are over, some more impressive than others, some didn’t happen at all, some brought great hope, some were disappointing. The old days of splitting the team equally and going to battle, the winner eating streak, the loser beans has passed with so much of the good stuff.

But college football has not stopped even with the spring games over. Now it’s times to get even more serious about recruiting. There have been some impressive successes already, and there will be more. Some recruits want to whole song and dance, all the trips, and all the wine and dinning they can get. Some just want to play football for the school they most want to play for. Some even make the choice concerning academics, a ray of hope.

Fans from our region are mostly concerned about Virginia Tech and the Hokies are doing pretty good, and have gotten commitments from six players. Three are four star recruits; Nyquee Hawkins, a defensive back from Jersey, Bryan  Hudson, a 6-4, 290 offensive lineman from Georgetown, Kentucky, and Jessee Hanson, an offensive tackle from Lord Botetourt, 6-5, 290. So the Hokies have hit twice already on the offensive front, and that’s big for an area that has been a problem at times in recent years.

There are also three, 3-star recruits in the fold; Mike Sainristi, an athlete who could end up at a number of positions. He’s a 5-9, 175 quick footer from Massachusetts, Elijah Bowick, a wide receiver from Charlotte, and Jahad Carter, another athlete from Henrico.

The top rated high school players from this region of the country are 6th rated Darrell Wright from Huntington, W.Va., a 6-6, 300 tackle, likely to end up at Ohio State, Brandon Smith, the highest rated player in Virginia and the 26th rated player in the nation. Smith is a rangy 6-4, 220 outside linebacker from Louisa that Tech would love to have. Oscar Smith has the 73rd rated player in the country, a cornerback, and he has committed to Clemson, and the 74th rated player in the nation is another huge tackle, 6-6, 300 Doug Nester, again from Huntington Spring Valley, W.Va., and he has already said yes to Ohio State.

Other highly regarded players in Virginia that the Hokies are recruiting are Paynton Laud, a corner from Bishop Sullivan, Litchfield Ajavon, a safety that said yes to Notre Dame last week, Cam’Ron Bell, another corner from Oscar Smith, and a player the Hokies are recruited really hard is Stafford tailback Devyn Ford, rated the 150th best player in the country and a playmaker at tailback Tech would really love to have. But where Smith and Ford are concerned, Tech will have to beat off some high rollers, they are national recruits.

The biggest weeks last week, and there is always some movement around spring games, were had by Notre Dame with four, 4-star recruits, and Alabama with three, 4-star players. UVa has gotten a commitment from wideout Tyquest Terry of Blacksburg, a 5-8, 165 quick footed receiver, and the Wahoos need speed.

It’s very early in the recruiting process, and much will change over the next nine months, but relationships must be built and the groundwork must be done to find the right players and win them over. You must get ink in February.

Presently Oklahoma has the highest rated recruiting class, Florida State 2, Ole Miss 3, Bama 4, Texas A&M 5, Georgia 6, Michigan 7, Clemson 8, Miami 9, and Notre Dame 10. Tech has the 20th rated class presently, West Virginia 34, and UVa 40. But there will be movement, some will drop, some will move up the rankings.

The SEC has the advantage, it always does for one simple reason, the conference is located where the most talent is. One state that is growing by leaps and bounds in football talent is Georgia, and this is why the Bulldogs are likely to remain in the battle for the national playoff. Consider this, of the top 100 rated players in the nation, 11 are from the state of Georgia, and of the top 300 in the country, 35 are from Georgia.

One-and-Done on the Way Out:

    The commission on College Basketball has recommended an end to the “One-and-Done” rule, potential lifetime bans for rules violators in the sport, and changes to the relationship between the NCAA and apparel companies.

“We need to put the college back in college basketball,” commission chairman and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday at a news conference in Indianapolis after the independent panel released a detailed 60-page report.

“Our focus has been to strengthen the collegiate model, not to move toward one that brings aspects of professionalism into the game of basketball,” said Rice. NCAA president Mark Emmert has said he wants reforms in place as early as August, so that could mean the “One-and-Done” has seen its last recruiting season. Emmert said it is now up to the NCAA to act, and determine how the Board of Governors takes the next appropriate steps to enact the panel’s recommendations which he feels is vital to maintaining legitimate “collegiate” basketball.

The commission was formed following the recent FBI investigations into college basketball and its very dark underbelly. Arizona, Oklahoma State, Southern Cal, and Auburn have already been involved with investigations and the FBI probe is still ongoing. Kansas and NC-State became involved with evidence of “payola” three weeks ago, and Louisville has become a cesspool of college basketball over the past two years with an assortment of charges, some involving prostitution, buying recruits, and numerous other violation.

Some will now say this cannot happen if the NBA doesn’t cooperate. Why care? The NCAA needs to do what it must to clean up the game of basketball. Presently a far too high percentage of the sporting public believe it is a dirty sport and it’s getting harder to argue against that assumption.

If the NBA will not act as it should, then ban the NBA from NCAA campuses, do not allow them at college games to scout, severe the relationship. But the situation must be dealt with, the credibility of the game is in the balance. Schools need to buy equipment and apparel from competing companies, apparel companies should be allowed to buy college programs. The day that practice started it was doomed to scandal. And all of college sport needs to start punishing cheaters appropriately.

By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot