South Recruiting Notebook

Between junior days and visits for spring practice is in the air for the class of 2008, a member from the class of 2007 stole the show late last week as Rich Rodriguez and his West Virginia Mountaineers officially added a major member to its signing class.

Noel Devine, a U.S. Army All-American running back from North Fort Myers, Fla. and one of the more controversial players in the class of 2007, signed a letter-of-intent with West Virginia around noon on Friday.

The Devine story is a long and well-known story starting with a posting of his freshman highlight film three years ago and includes a short period in Texas as Deion Sanders attempted to adopt Devine. However, with all the off-the-field talk of Devine, there is no question that he is an incredible talent on the field.

"We're very excited that Noel has made the decision to join the Mountaineer family," said Rodriguez in a West Virginia athletic department press release. "We know he is working hard to meet all his eligibility requirements, and we're confident he can get that done. Coach James Iandoli and the staff at North Fort Myers High have been a tremendous asset to this young man in preparing for his future."

Devine rushed for more than 1,100 yards as a freshman, 1,600 as a sophomore, 1,900 as a junior and 2,100 as a senior. Last fall, he led the Red Knights to an 11-2 mark and the third round of the state playoffs.

Michael Brewster
Michael Brewster, an interior offensive line prospect from Orlando (Fla.) Edgewater who will likely be a five-star prospect on, recently scheduled his five official visits. He is scheduled to see LSU on Sept. 8, Florida on Sept. 15, Alabama on Sept. 22, USC on Oct. 13, and Ohio State on Nov 3.

"Ohio State and Florida are my top two because they've been recruiting me the longest and I have the best relationship with their coaches," Brewster said.

Ted Roof and his Duke Blue Devils started off with a bang in the class of 2008 with a commitment from a big target in Nigel Nicholas, a tight end out of Ridgeland High in Rossville, Ga.

"Yes sir, I've committed to Duke," said Nicholas. "The education and direction of the program was too much to pass up."

Nicholas, who measures out at 6-foot-3 and 248 pounds, has been clocked running a 4.7 forty yard dash. He visited Duke over the past two days, spending a good amount of time with defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase - something that was crucial toward his decision.

"He really helped me see this program is on the rise. They were down the last few years, but they were also young. Everyone's got that experience they needed to have a great season."

Tobias Palmer
Tobias Palmer became the first commitment in the 2008 class for NC State when he gave his pledge to new head coach Tom O'Brien.

"Tobias has committed to NC State," said Northwood head coach Bill Hall. "He was born and raised in Raleigh, grew up a State fan, and that is where his heart was in the end."

Palmer picked up an offer from former Wolfpack head coach Chuck Amato in October, and the new coaching staff was more than willing to keep that offer on the table.

After a handful of junior day trips and visits to college practices, Briarwood Christian linebacker Bo Walters saw all he needed to see.

"Mississippi State offered me on Thursday," said the 6-2, 225 linebacker. "After talking with my family I decided to go ahead and commit to Mississippi State. I called Coach Cheese and told him."

Walters chose the Bulldogs over interest from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and Vanderbilt.

"I went to junior days at Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State," said Bo. "Once I left Mississippi State, I knew that was the place for me."

Ivan Matchett, a running back from Mobile-St. Paul's, (Ala.), gave his verbal pledge to the University of Alabama at the beginning of the week, but decided to wait a few days before going public with his decision.

"I actually committed around noon on Monday," Ivan Matchett said. "I was going to wait before announcing so I could work on my teammates. I found out it was already out there last night. I told all my friends today at school.

"The reason I committed early was because there was no reason to wait around. I could go where I wanted to go. The coaches are real cool. I love the campus. I fell in love with the place."

Drew Cole
Auburn picked up a football verbal commitment for the 2008 signee class on Wednesday from defensive back Drew Cole out of Picayune, Miss.

"I just got off the phone with Coach (Will) Muschamp and I told him that I am going to be an Auburn Tiger," said Cole. "I took the visits to the schools I was interested in, which were Ole Miss, LSU and Auburn, and I just like Auburn's coaches, players and the town. Mississippi State and Auburn have offered me and LSU was recruiting me hard, but I like Auburn the best."

Wide receiver DeAndre Brown, Mississippi's top prospect, has recently added offers from Georgia, Kentucky, Miami, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Washington. For Brown the recruiting process has been a very humbling experience. "When you are where I am from you aren't used to getting this type of attention," explained Brown. "It's a big honor for me. I am just staying humble. I am not going to let anything get to my head."

Brown had offers from Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss before this most recent rash of scholarship tenders. DeAndre denys a leader, but his attraction to LSU is tough to discount. "I went to LSU about a month ago. I enjoyed it," said DeAndre. "They have a big campus. My old teammate Richard Dickson goes there, so he is trying to fill my head with LSU. Overall I do feel at home there."

The second Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas combine took place on Saturday, and the combination of warm weather and a slight breeze made for some fast times throughout the combine.

The hosting Butler Bulldogs brought four of the top prospects in the state of North Carolina and all showed at one point or another that they can live up to the hype of their offer lists.

Spencer Adams
However, the MVP on the day certainly went to Spencer Adams who, at 6-1, 170 pounds, posted a 4.29 and 4.31 on the stopwatch during his two official runs and just looked like the best athlete even during warmups. Teammate E.J. Whitley posted a 4.50 forty on the stopwatch, and Robert Blanton posted a 4.61 forty on the stopwatch.

"I feel like I did the best [in DB drills]," said Blanton. "My footwork [is what makes me stand out]. I don't have the fastest 40-time, but I have the fastest feet out here. At DB, you're not going to be running forties all day; you've got to have some quick feet – that's what it comes down to."

New Independence running back Rod Chisholm came in a bit smaller than expected at 5-7½, 181 pounds and ran a 4.53 on the stopwatch.

Perhaps the biggest news coming out of the fourth year of these North Carolina Shrine Combines is the start of the South Carolina Shrine Combines with two dates this year. Both combines will take place at Columbia High School on May 19 and July 21.

Miller Safrit can be reached at

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