North Recruiting Notebook
Paul Jones
Paul Jones
Regional Recruiting Manager
Posted Jan 19, 2009
Bob Lichtenfels

The stretch run toward National Signing Day 2009 has begun. Over these next few weeks is when things get crazy and will recap the latest news of the week in the North Region and bring you up to speed.

Penn State had a banner recruiting weekend as the Nittany Lions landed a much need wide receiver prospect in three-star Shawney Kersey (Woodbury/N.J.) who was originally committed to Rutgers. Kersey is the third prospect that was committed to the Scarlet Knights to change their minds and choose Penn State. Four-star weakside linebacker/safety Gerald Hodges (Paulsboro/N.J.) and three-star defensive tackle Jordan Hill (Steelton/Pa./Steelton-Highspire) were the first two in December and January respectively.

Penn State also landed a two-way lineman John Urschel (Buffalo/N.Y./Canisius). Urschel is the same type of smaller, more compact, under-the-radar interior lineman that has been successful in the Nittany Lions defensive scheme. The cherry on top of the entire weekend came when class of 2010 four-star quarterback Paul Jones (McKees Rocks/Pa./Sto-Rox) became the second big time prospect to commit early to the Nittany lions joining fellow four-star WPIAL recruit Mike Hull (Canonsburg/Pa./Canon McMillan). Jones and Hull are arguably the top two prospects coming out of Western Pennsylvania next season.

Endicott (N.Y.) Union-Endicott junior safety Jordan Thomas informed over the weekend that he had picked up his second scholarship in two days. Thomas had first been offered by Rutgers and then Pittsburgh followed suit as well.

“It was an honor to be offered by the head coach (Dave Wannstedt) himself,” Thomas said. “They are definitely near the top of my list now with Rutgers.”

Inkster (Mich.) junior quarterback Devin Gardner, a member of the initial Top 100 for 2010, picked up a big scholarship offer on Friday, when Notre Dame came calling. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Gardner passed for 26 touchdowns and rushed for 22 as a junior while leading Inkster to the state title game.

On the Notre Dame offer, he said, "It feels good because I thought they weren’t going to offer me anymore. I hadn’t talked to them during the season so I didn't know if they knew how I was doing, but I guess they were following."

Now up to 11 offers, he is not expected to make a decision anytime soon. He visited Michigan on Saturday for a basketball game and says he may go to junior days at Ohio State and Notre Dame and summer camps at Penn State, Florida and Miami (Fla.)

Another top junior prospect making news is Columbus (Ohio) Brookhaven defensive end Derrick Bryant. Bryant, who has offers from Illinois and Michigan says the maize and blue were his team growing up and an early commitment is entirely possible.

“With me being from Columbus, you would think my favorite team would be Ohio State, but Michigan has a lot of tradition, they’re one of the most winning teams in college football history."

Bryant plans to take a trip to Ann Arbor in Mid-February after his basketball season ends.

One senior prospect that remains uncommitted is Belleville (Ill.) Althoff Catholic offensive tackle William Lawson.

“I have offers from Ball State, Kansas, Missouri, Kansas State, New Mexico and Iowa State,” he reported, “Missouri offered me right at the beginning of the school year and Kansas offered me around the middle.”

This past weekend, Lawson took an official visit to Ball State, this coming weekend he will be at Kansas, New Mexico the 30th and is planning on a mid week visit to Kansas State.

Chicago (Ill.) Morgan Park defensive end Craig Drummond has de-committed from Illinois according to a source close to Morgan Park High school. The four-star prospect is taking a trip to Ole Miss next weekend. We will have more from him in the coming days.

Boston College verbal commitment Dillon Quinn of Pawling (Pa.) Trinity-Pawling School took an official visit to Cincinnati this weekend and gave the Bearcats high marks. Does it mean he’ll be making a change?

“One factor in my decision could be the distance from home. I’ve spent the past three years away from home at a prep school and being close to home would be nice.”

The Bearcats enjoyed a big week with the news on several fronts with players that should help them keep their status at the top of the Big East.

Former Class of 2008 four-star cornerback Reuben Johnson of Atco (N.J.) Winslow Township High School enrolled in classes and is expected to compete early for a spot on the Bearcats defense this fall.

He’ll be joined in March by former USC wide receiver Vidal Hazelton. The former fighter-star prospect is looking to get closer to home and after getting his release from the Trojans made the choice to play in the Bearcats pass happy offense. The Bearcats are working to get a waiver to allow Hazelton to play this fall but if that fails he’ll redshirt and play in 2010.

El Camino (Cal.) Community College defensive back Malik James will also be a Bearcat after taking his official visit this weekend. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound James has great speed and will help the Bearcats as they lose three defensive backs from this past season’s defense.

Collin Boucher of Kettering Alter High School (Ohio) picked up offers from Miami (Ohio) and Toledo in the past week and will take an official visit to Miami next weekend. Many feel the linebacker could verbal to Miami as soon as the middle of this week.

Twin brother Austin Boucher has seen his name mentioned with several programs including Ohio State. The quarterback is a Toledo verbal commitment and has stated he’s interested in staying with the Rockets. But with his brother Collin looking to be headed to Miami it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the RedHawks pull off a twin signing with the pair. Both have talked in the past about their dream to play college football on the same team and with Toledo and Miami both having offered the pair that should be able to happen.

Miami also received a verbal commitment from John Anevski of Cincinnati Elder High School (Ohio) after he took his official visit with the RedHawks this weekend. Anevski picked Miami over Louisville and Illinois who had both offered.

While Miami picked up a few new players they also lost a prospect as quarterback Jamal Ramsey of Battle Ground Academy (Tenn.) changed his verbal commitment from the RedHawks to Middle Tennessee State so he could be closer to his home and family.

Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne cornerback Javon Marshall got his offer from Vanderbilt last week and took his official visit this weekend and now is listed as a Vandy verbal commitment. While Marshall didn’t get the press clippings of others he put together another solid season and is excited about playing in the SEC.

“I’d done a lot of research about the schools without even looking at football. Vanderbilt is one of the top universities in the country with great academics and I’ve worked extremely hard in the classroom to have a chance to attend such a school. My visit was great and my family and I love Nashville.”

Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier junior offensive lineman Matt James picked up a big offer as the National Champion Florida Gators offered the 6-foot-7, 260-pound offensive tackle. James also holds offers from Cincinnati, Michigan, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Illinois, Notre Dame, Duke, Stanford, Louisville and Tennessee.

St. Xavier senior Luke Kuechly made his official verbal commitment to Boston College this weekend picking the Eagles over Stanford, Virginia and Duke. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound outside linebacker talked about things other than football for his choice.

“I’ve grown up in the Jesuit atmosphere and Boston College is a Jesuit school. That gave me a real comfort level and made my final choice to attend Boston College an easy one to make.”

Louisville may have missed out on John Anevski but did get a commitment from Santa Clarita (Calif.) College of the Canyons offensive lineman Joe Evinger. The 6-foot-7, 340-pound Terre Haute, Indiana native was getting interest from several but will return close to home to finish his college career.

The Cardinals also brought in a family member as Lakeland (Fla.) Gibson safety Richard Lee has issued his commitment to the Cards and will join cousin and current Louisville running back Bilal Powell. Lee chose the Cardinals over Central Michigan, Ball State and West Virginia.

Cincinnati (Ohio) Colerain High School linebacker Damon Sims has seen his recruitment take a surge in the past few weeks. Just a few weeks ago, Sims had Kent State, Marshall and Toledo working to sign him. Now, Sims has picked up offers from Indiana and this past week West Virginia threw their name into the mix. Sources have also told that hometown school Cincinnati could be the next program to offer the 6-foot-3, 205-pound linebacker.

Atco (N.J.) Winslow Township High School middle linebacker Ka’Lial Glaud who seems to be down to West Virginia and Rutgers right now with Iowa on the outside looking in. Glaud has said for a long time now that WVU was the favorite, but Rutgers has made up some ground.

Timber Creek High School cornerback Eric Loper and Neshaminy High School offensive lineman Dan Shirey both committed to Villanova this weekend. Other non-FBS commitments were Anthony Stroffolino to Penn and Allegany (Md.) High School offensive tackle to Yale.

Pennsbury High School tight end Steve Marck seems to be getting closer to a decision right now and while Syracuse and others have offered, it looks like Miami (Ohio) could be the final destination for the Fairless Hills, Pa., product. His brother C.J. transferring to the school certainly can’t hurt the RedHawks chances here.

Justin Brown, a 6-foot-3.5, 215-pound wide receiver from Concord High School in Delaware continues to be a hot topic in recruiting as he has narrowed his schools down to Penn State and Rutgers. It was rumored over the weekend that Brown gave a commitment to the Nittany Lions; however Brown has publicly debunked them. PSU has had him for the most amounts of visits; however the Scarlet Knights have the advantage of Tom Savage in his ear, so things could get interesting here. This situation is about as confusing as recruiting can get right now.

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

Related Stories
Jones Picks the Lions
 -by  Jan 17, 2009
Irish Offer Wakes Up Gardner
 -by  Jan 16, 2009
Gardner Gets Golden Offer
 -by  Jan 16, 2009

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