Locker Room: Stone Skipping, and the Cavaliers are hot, while Hokies suffer setback

I’m getting a bit panicky. I’d love to see a ground ball up the middle for a single, just a simple single. How about a ground ball to shortstop and getting thrown out? I’ll take it.

Last weekend I watched a “Cornhole” competition for the second time. Then while channel surfing, I ran across the “Stone Skipping Playoff.” Remember when you were a kid and down by the creek you would find the flattest rock you could and see how many times you could make it skip across the water? That’s what it was! Then came an old replay from the “Wide World of Sports.” It was 1984, I think. The “World Barrel Jumping Championships.” Good friend Erby Turpin told me he watched lawnmower racing and even got excited. Desperation might be setting in. I think maybe we should go back to watching old western movies. Thank goodness we’re getting ready to go racing in a few days.

 ACC Football Recruiting:

Clemson is Clemson. In a relatively short period of time in the history of college football, the Tigers have become elite. They got off to fast recruiting start and then seemed to settle in. Clemson does not recruit like a lot of programs. The talent the Tigers pursue is a cut above what most are able to recruit. But Mack Brown and Carolina came on the scene and the Tar Heels are still there, and I predict will stick.

Over the past 33 days UVa has been hot. The Cavaliers probably had the best month in program history in football recruiting in April. In all over the past five plus weeks the ACC has had 38 football commitments. Until this week, Clemson was surprisingly the only program without one.

Carolina has the top class in the ACC, Clemson is second, Miami third, and UVa fourth. That will change in time at least somewhat, but UVa has landed six solid commitments over the past five weeks plus a very promising transfer from Mississippi State at quarterback. That’s Keytaon Thompson, a 4-star recruit in 2017 and a top 200 player in the country. Those in the know say he’s a bigger version of Bryce Perkins. That would be pretty good. Thompson is eligible immediately and has two years of eligibility left. At the moment at least, the Wahoos are whooping it up.

Now re-enter the Tigers. Just a few hours ago Clemson nailed the number one rated all-purpose running back in the nation, Will Shipley from Matthews, North Carolina. Every major program in the country wanted these 5 stars who is rated the 22nd best player in the country. It came down to Clemson and Notre Dame. Shipley pretty much said at his announcement, the Irish may have been able to win him over, but he got to visit Clemson multiple times and the virus stopped him from being able to visit the Irish. But now Clemson is back with the number four rated class in the nation with only 10 commitments. All programs rated higher have four to seven more players than the Tigers.

That should give everybody pause for concern. Clemson is now one of the programs that selects as much as it recruits. That’s what happens when you lose only five games in five years. Ohio State is still number one, Carolina two, Tennessee has been red hot and has vaulted up to three. UVa has the 20th rated class, West Virginia 33, but Virginia Tech has just taken a huge fall all the way down to the 51st rated class in the country.

It’s still fairly early in the process and teams can move up and down the rankings much faster than will be the case in a few months, but just two weeks ago the Hokies had moved up to 27, and have fallen 24 spots.

The reason is not a surprise. Four-star Texas quarterback Dematrius Davis has decommitted from Va. Tech. It had been speculated for a couple weeks that would likely happen. Most believe Davis is likely to end up at Auburn, but this week he did not say where he was going, just that he was no longer committed to the Hokies.

Tech has tried to move fast. Three-star Lucas Coley was offered quickly the same day after the loss of Davis. Coley too is from Texas, San Antonio. He is also a duel threat quarterback and has been offered by Houston, Arkansas, Washington State, UNLV, and Vanderbilt, among others.

UVa has hit the mark on players from all around the country the past month. Adding to the transfer Thompson at quarterback is four-star defensive end Josh McCarron of Washington. All other commitments for the Cavaliers are three stars.

UVa also landed a quarterback from Texas, Jacob Rodriquez, also a duel threat, Michael Green, a wide receiver from Williamsburg, Micah Gaffney, a cornerback from Alabama, and William Simpkins, another cornerback from Maryland.

A very interesting commitment for UVa is West Weeks, a linebacker from Georgia. Weeks will no doubt get bigger than his present 200 pounds as he will be a linebacker for the Cavaliers, however, he is a speed linebacker. Weeks returns punts and kickoffs for his high school team, and also plays wide receiver on offense.  It would not be a surprise if before the process is over, Weeks becomes a four-star recruit. His video is very impressive, an impressive athlete.

In many ways college football is trying to operate business as usual. In recruiting some programs do not seem to have been injured by the virus. It’s obvious also that a lot of other programs have been hurt.

When you are a program that depends on developing athletes you have lost valuable time, but also those programs that need to sell themselves, that need that campus and home visit, are finding things hard. That’s a huge reason why UVa’s success recently is so impressive. It is also obvious that some recruits have likely made their decisions a little sooner than planned because you don’t know when you will be able to visit a college campus. A borderline recruit cannot afford to wait, and then be left behind, or not be able to go to the school he really wanted to. Evidence of that is that the number of recruits across the country in Power Five Conferences is about the same as a year ago at this point.

I do believe we will play college football in 2020. The season may start a bit late and there may need to be some adjustments. If state health officials feel it is safe to play and for people to watch, the games should go on. The ramifications of not playing are staggering, not only to football, but most of the other sports as well. And politically speaking, if you were the governors of Alabama, Ohio, Florida, Texas and so on, would you want to announce to your state there would be no football? Re-election would be in jeopardy.

Region’s Biggest Recruit:

That would actually be a recruit for the 2022 class, and it would be junior Gunner Givens of Lord Botetourt. He transferred down from Covington two years ago. He could possibly end up being one of the most sought-after high school players ever from this end of the state. Givens is a 6-6, 280 offensive tackle that also plays on the defensive front for LB.

The schools hoping to get Givens’ commitment almost reads like a who’s who in college football. He has been offered by all the regional schools, Va. Tech, UVa, WVU and all the others, but he has also already been offered by defending national champion LSU, Florida State, Alabama, Notre Dame, Penn State, Texas A&M, and every ACC school other than Clemson, but that wouldn’t come as a surprise.

By DAN CALLAHAN, The Patriot