North Recruiting Notebook
Daryl Robinson
Daryl Robinson
Regional Recruiting Manager
Posted Nov 24, 2008
Bob Lichtenfels


There were a bunch of big games around the region this weekend and that means a lot of recruits were visiting schools. The high school playoff season is also in full gear. Scout.com tries to catch you up on the latest around the North Region.

West Hills (Cal.) Community College cornerback Daryl Robinson did not take much time deciding what program he was going to. The former Temple running back took his official visit to Minnesota over the weekend and he committed.

“I committed to Minnesota,” Robinson said. “I just felt really comfortable with all the coaches and players up here. This is a program that is on the rise.”

The exciting WPIAL playoff’s concluded this weekend with four championship games played at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. In the Class A game Clairton and Monaca battled it out. Clairton played without starting quarterback Andrew Currington, but they still managed to hold on for a 12-6 victory.

In the Class AA game the fans were treated to a familiar rivalry as Aliquippa and Beaver Falls had a rematch of their earlier season game. This time though, the Quips avenged their earlier season defeat as they held the Tigers vaunted ground game led by Pitt recruit Todd Thomas and promising junior Cody Cook in check. Another Pitt recruit Juantez Hollins was a big part of the victory as the Quips offensive and defensive lines controlled the line of scrimmage. The final ended up 8-6 in favor of the Quips.

Thomas Jefferson seems to be a fixture in the WPIAL Class AAA championship game and for good reason they have been over the past five years. The Jaguars captured their third consecutive WPIAL title on Saturday with a 34-14 win over Blackhawk.

No one in the state, unless they were tied to the Bethel Park program thought that the Blackhawks had a chance against the state’s No. 1 team the Gateway Gators. The Gators were ranked as high as No. 3 nationally by some publications and web sites. Gateway’s usually high powered offense was held in check as the Gators managed only 107-yards of offense as they were stunned by a 10-6 score.

Steelton (Pa.) Highspire running back Jeremiah Young needed 65-yards this weekend against Camp Hill to eclipse the state rushing record held by former East Stroudsburg and Syracuse University standout James Mungro. Young eclipsed the 100-yard mark and the record of 8,432 career yards in the first half.

Young finished the game with 138-yards and a career mark of 8,505 yards as Steel High won another District title and continues in the state playoffs. Young has a realistic shot at 9,000 career yards.

One of the top uncommitted prospects in the Midwest continues to make the rounds. Homewood-Flossmoor (Ill.) defensive end Michael Buchanan took his official to Purdue this weekend and witnessed a huge Boilermakers victory over rival Indiana. Even with that performance, Buchanan still did not make a commitment. He has already taken officials to Vanderbilt and Illinois and will likely take another to Cal before the end of the season.

The state finals are set in Michigan and a couple of blue chippers had big performances to help their teams to the state finals. Inkster had huge games out of their stars. Junior quarterback Devin Gardner threw three touchdowns, one a 52-yarder to senior Cameron Gordon. Senior running back Alan Freeman had 81 yards rushing and senior cornerback Damond Smith, a prospect who should receive more offers soon had two interceptions (a third was called back), one of which he returned for a 98-yard touchdown. Ovid-Elsie has a junior prospect to remember. Running back Chris Robinson rushed for 354 yards in a win over Standish-Sterling. Folks who have been following his season were not surprised by that number as the 6'0, 200-lb back had already rushed for 2300 yards coming into that game.

A pair of Indiana commitments have been softened as Birmingham Brother Rice (Mich.) cornerback Kenny Watkins and Livonia Clarenceville linebacker Jeremy Gainer have both decided to re-open their recruitment. The two players are cousins and have been taking trips together, most recently, official visits to Minnesota this weekend. It was there that both received offers from the Golden Gophers. They will both take an official visit to Indiana coming up and may also head to Iowa. Gainer has also been on unofficial visits to Penn State and Michigan and is also hearing from Michigan State.

Earlier this season, Carmel (Ind.) and Center Grove (Ind.) played an instant classic, with Carmel winning 32-31. The stage is now set for the rematch as the two will meet this Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium for the state title. While both teams are loaded, all eyes will be on the quarterbacks. Carmel has Kentucky commitment Morgan Newton and he will again duel with Georgia Tech commitment Jordan Luallen.

Wayne Carter, Bill Bilo and Nahjee Gibson will be three names to watch out of Erial, N.J., next season for Timber Creek High School. All three of these prospects have already been receiving interest from programs around the nation and they also had very productive seasons as juniors.

Nahjee Gibson, RB/DB 5-foot-11, 190 pounds (4.51)

Gibson has carried the ball 151 times for 1060 yards and 10 touchdowns this season and also has 12 catches for 125 yards. He scored four two-point conversions as well. He has been receiving mail from Tennessee, West Virginia, Connecticut, Iowa and Michigan State and is being recruited as an athlete according to his coach. Hinson referred to him as “a physical specimen who possesses great vision, burst and speed that will play both defensive back and running back for us as a senior”.

Wayne Carter, OG/DT 6-foot-2, 305 pounds (5.4)

Carter graded out at 92-percent on the season and only allowed one sack. He had 18 pancake blocks as well. Coach Higgins describes him as “very explosive and athletic for his size that will be a devastating two-way lineman for us”. He has gotten mail from Tennessee, West Virginia, Connecticut, Temple, Notre Dame, Duke and Michigan State already and attended Rutgers game against Fresno State. Coach Hinson thinks he could end up on either side of the ball at the collegiate level.

Bill Bilo, OG/DT 6-foot-3, 280 pounds (5.3)

Bilo graded out at 90-percent on the season and also only allowed one sack while registering 13 pancake blocks. Coach Hinson says, “Billy is a very strong kid and I am expecting him to dominate the line of scrimmage. He makes great contact and plays low. He was 24 and 7 last year as a varsity heavyweight wrestler.” Right now he is getting mail from Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Connecticut, Duke, Notre Dame and Michigan State and also attended the contest between Rutgers and Fresno State. He will be recruited on the offensive line and was named the most outstanding offensive lineman at Villanova.

Teams going up against Winslow Township High School last year knew one thing entering the games…do not throw the ball to whatever side of the field Reuben Johnson was on. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound cornerback not only has very good ball skills and instincts, but as you will be able to see from his senior highlights below, he is also an extremely good tackler from the corner position that doesn’t need to break stride to kick the legs out from under his opponent.

Johnson, or “Daddy” as those close to him like to refer to him had taken his tests last year and failed to make the grade, however he recently took a 70-point jump in his SAT and between that and his ACT test is now a mere three points away from being eligible to play college football. We caught up with him on Monday evening to talk about his recruiting plans.

“I have been working out and taking classes at the local community college so I can transfer them when I become eligible and I’m right there now,” Johnson said. “I am only three points away on the scale they use and the next test is December 6th, so I’m going to take care of that for sure. Right now I’m just dying to get on that football field and hit someone. You know me and my passion for the game and it’s killing me not to be out there playing when I know I could be making a big impact as a freshman for some team right now. All I know is I’m back and ready to pick a school when I re-take this test.”

Schools like Tennessee, West Virginia, Iowa, Rutgers, Pittsburgh and Boise State are among those who still have offers on the table, however after knowing Johnson for years now I would speculate heavily that the Mountaineers will get the call when all is said and done. Johnson would then enroll at his school of choice in January and be prepared for the upcoming season.

One caveat to add to all of this is that his former teammate and good friend Ka’Lial Glaud will most likely follow him where he goes, something that could give a certain program two outstanding players from the ever-talented Winslow Township program

Rumors have been rampant on Khalil Wilkes on messages boards over the past few months and that will continue until the 6-foot-4, 285-pound offensive guard chooses his college destination and makes it public. One thing that has remained constant is our belief that the Jersey City, N.J., native will end up with Stanford and while he has not committed yet, it sounds like that is a great possibility still.

“I just got admitted to Stanford and am very excited about that,” Wilkes said. “It is a great privilege and an honor to get into such a prestigious school and because academics are my main focus with them it really puts them at the top of my list right now. Academics aren’t the only thing I like though. I love how energetic the coaching staff is and on top of that, they’re all very knowledgeable people who are also great to talk to off the field.”

“Most people think that I’m an east coast guy and am going to stay out here, but when I went out for my visit I loved it there,” Wilkes added. “They have an absolutely beautiful campus and I really felt comfortable there. Coach Chris Dalman runs an offensive line scheme that I really like with the zone play that he got from Bill Walsh and he’s also played and coached at the NFL level. Finally, I really like the class they are bringing together right now because they’re all very interactive with one another. I talk to Shayne Skov, Zach Ertz and Terrence Stephens on a consistent basis and that’s just another thing that makes me very comfortable with Stanford.”

While it does still look like the Cardinal is a strong leader for Wilkes, he is considering other schools and has set up an official visit already.

“I am definitely still open right now,” Wilkes explained. “I will be taking an official visit to Wake Forest on November 29th and also am looking at Rutgers and Pittsburgh as well. Maryland and Vanderbilt are two other schools that have really come into the picture for me recently.”

As for when a decision will be made, Wilkes assured Scout.com that it will be way before signing day.

“I’m going to decide after the season, so that could be the weekend we play Don Bosco or it could be in December. It won’t go until signing day that I definitely can tell you right now.”

The Pennington School in Pennington, N.J., has two talented prospects for the Class of 2010 in Harold Spears and Dontae Johnson and Johnson picked up offers from Michigan State, North Carolina State and Maryland this week. He is definitely a player that could blow up with offers in the coming months.

With the departure of Greg Robinson from Syracuse looming we caught up with wide receiver commitment Alec Lemon to talk about his commitment to the Orange and found that he is 100-percent committed to the program despite and changes in the staff, although he maintained he’d like to see some assistants stay from the current regime.

While Rolandan Finch is still open with the school he’ll attend, there is no mistaking his desire to win a state championship. Better known as “Deuce”, the Louisville (Ky.) St. Xavier product rushed for five touchdowns and 195-yards in a 48-6 victory. Finch is being sought by home state programs Louisville and Kentucky along with Illinois and Stanford to name a few.

On a collision course is Ohio State verbal Justin Green who rushed for two touchdowns and 68-yards in a 41-14 victory over Madison Central. Green, who missed a few weeks because of an injury looks to be fully back.

Another Ohio State verbal also is looking to close out his career with a state championship. Jordan Whiting (Louisville Trinity HS) posted 10.5 tackles in a 37-13 victory over Ballard. Teammate and Central Michigan commitment Tim Phillips rushed for 134 yards and one touchdown. With his performance Phillips passed 1,000 yards on the season and has over 4,000 yards during his career. Whiting and Phillips look to win back-to-back Class 6A titles in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Class of 2010 prospect Miles Simpson played a key role in his team advancing to the next round by carrying the ball 41 times for 287 yards and six touchdowns in a 46-41 victory over Conner.

Anderson High School (Ohio) is looking to repeat as the Division Two state champions this coming weekend after knocking off Columbus DeSales in a rematch between the two teams that saw Anderson fall 38-17. This time Anderson wouldn’t be denied winning 14-10 behind the running of Class of 2010 running back Kyle Slater who rushed for 255 yards on 38 carries. In the past two games the junior running back has rushed for 478 yards. One reason Slater has seen great success is he’s running behind top Ohio offensive line prospect Andrew Norwell as Anderson earns another trip back to Massillon.

Youngstown Ursuline High School (Ohio) will also be making another trip back to Massillon this weekend as they look to win a state championship after coming up short last season. Ursuline got touchdowns from five players including Darrell Mason and Dale Peterman in the 35-6 victory.

Ohio State commitment Storm Klein saw his bid for a return to state come up short as Eastmoor Academy kept Klein under 100 yards on the night and out of the end zone.

In a battle of Big Ten and Big East recruits the Elder Panthers won over Pickerington Central 24-10. Elder, with Josh Jones and Austen Bujnoch (Cincinnati verbal commitments) advanced over Jamie Wood, Zach Boren (Ohio State) and Patrick White (Michigan State). Elder, who won state titles in 2002 and 2003 will take on Cleveland St. Ignatius for the states “Big School” title on Saturday night.

Jordan Luallen helped Center Grove (Indiana) advance to the state finals knocking off Ben Davis 49-21. Teammate Luke Swift rushed for 180 yards on 18 carries to go with three receptions for 92 yards in the victory. Up next is Kentucky verbal commitment Morgan Newton of Carmel High School. Newton went 10-14 for 106 yards while also rushing for 85 yards on 16 carries in Carmel’s 38-3 win over Penn taking the Greyhounds to their third straight state championship game.

Class of 2008 West Virginia commitment Corey Freeman (Cleveland Heights HS) didn’t make it to the Mountaineers this fall. Now the 6-foot-3, 210-pound defensive end is looking at other programs and wondering if he’ll go back to the Mountaineers or look at other options. Saturday night found Freeman in Cincinnati watching the Bearcats take on Pittsburgh.

Allen Trieu, Dave Berk and Matt Alkire contributed to this report.


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