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October 28, 2010
With November around the corner, it's odd for quarterbacks to remain on the open market as most signal-callers make their decisions during the spring and summer. However, in the Atlantic East there are quite a few prospects at the position still shopping for the right school. The biggest target is Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek quarterback Marquise Williams, who remains committed to North Carolina but is expected to end up elsewhere. Where will he and others land?
Williams, a 6-foot-3, 218-pounder who is putting up monster numbers as a senior, has become the subject of a serious recruiting battle between UNC, the team trying to hold onto him, Michigan, Virginia Tech, N.C. State and possibly LSU. Williams committed to North Carolina in July but since the NCAA has been sniffing around the program in regards to agents and academics the gunslinger decided to look around.
So who holds the edge? Sources say that Virginia Tech has a slight lead over Michigan and North Carolina, with LSU trying to make a push and N.C. State hoping he takes his official in mid-November. As time passes, it seems less likely that Williams will stick with the Heels.
Virginia Tech is also the team to beat for another quarterback, Virginia Beach (Va.) Ocean Lakes star Lafonte Thourogood, who could commit soon. Thourogood has now taken official visits to Virginia Tech and West Virginia, and could be done with trips. Arkansas is still of high interest and Thourogood has talked about Notre Dame recruiting him as a receiver, but the Irish have not offered.
The Hokies and Mountaineers have long been considered the teams to beat with Virginia Tech always holding the edge. If the 6-foot-3, 224-pounder is done with trips, a decision could come very soon.
North Carolina, meanwhile, is in the mix for Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic athlete Tanner McEvoy, who started off being recruited as a wide receiver or tight end but is now being courted by most as a quarterback. South Carolina could be the team to beat according to many sources, followed by the Heels and Miami with the 'Canes being the only one recruiting him as an athlete rather than as a signal-caller. The commitment of four-star Jersey speedster Damiere Byrd only helps the Gamecocks' chances with McEvoy. However, the 6-foot-5, 200-pounder hasn't taken any official visits and doesn't appear to be in a big hurry.
Another committed quarterback like Williams, Cheshire (Conn.) Academy standout Cody Keith, continues to be recruited and shows apparent interest in N.C. State despite a commitment to East Carolina. Some say Keith will stick with ECU because it was his first offer.
And two quarterbacks in the region are beginning to gain interest as athletes.
Buffalo (N.Y.) Canisius quarterback Travis Eman has had a big senior year and is getting interest not only from the two schools that have offered him, Buffalo and TCU, but also from Syracuse, West Virginia, Boston College and others, some as a quarterback and some as an athlete.
Olney (Md.) Good Counsel quarterback Zach Dancel got his first D-I offer from New Mexico as an athlete, projected to play wide receiver or defensive back. And there has been some word that Maryland could follow suit.
While they won't play quarterback at the next level, three big-time prospects that play under center in high school are trying to close in on their decisions. Manassas (Va.) Osbourn athlete Dominique Terrell is down to Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Virginia with the Hokies recruiting him as a defensive back and the Cavaliers and Mountaineers recruiting him as a receiver. WVU and Tech seem to have the edge right now with confidence high on both sides.
Meanwhile, Baltimore (Md.) Gilman athlete Darius Jennings has been quiet about the recruiting process, but sources say that Maryland and Virginia, followed by Penn State, could have the edge over Virginia Tech, Boston College and some others recruiting him. The Terps look especially strong with a good start to the season and a surefire bowl bid as long as they don't implode. One of the drawbacks to Maryland heading into the season was the uncertain status of Ralph Friedgen and his staff. However, those questions have seemingly been answered.
Long Branch, N.J., athlete Miles Shuler plays quarterback in high school but projects as a receiver in college. Rutgers still has a strong lead for Shuler followed by Northwestern, who is a real threat because of Shuler's relationship with head coach Pat Fitzgerald. Notre Dame and Stanford will also get visits.
In state or out?
Richmond (Va.) Hermitage linebacker Curtis Grant has secretly been headed out of the state of Virginia since almost the beginning of the recruiting process despite many observers and sources saying he was a Virginia Tech lock as early as his sophomore season. While Grant still seems to be favoring leaving the state, there is a team that could keep him at home - and it's not the Hokies.
Grant currently favors Florida and Ohio State over North Carolina, Alabama and some others but keep an eye on Virginia as a darkhorse here. I'm not saying he will end up as a Cavalier. In fact there's probably only a 5-10 percent chance he'll stick and stay with the Cavs, but head coach Mike London has done a great job recruiting Grant and the 6-3, 222-pound linebacker keeps wavering on the status of Virginia.
Grant took an unofficial visit to Virginia a few weeks back to tell London in person that he was eliminating the Cavaliers and leaving the state. But London hasn't given up.
Official visits to Florida, Ohio State and UNC seem certain while Alabama is fading a bit with its current haul at linebacker. LSU is coming on a bit and Georgia, Michigan and Clemson are in the mix as well. Grant wants to take all five official visits before deciding and UVA won't get one of them, but if he doesn't fall in love away from home, there's always the slim chance he stays in state and lines up for London.
Speaking of Virginia
Another five-star, Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, took an unofficial visit to Virginia recently, raising questions about the Cavs' chances with the 6-7, 322-pounder. While the Cavs did host Kouandjio on the unofficial, most sources still point to Alabama as the clear leader with Cyrus' brother, Arie Kouandjio, already in Tuscaloosa.
Kouandjio hasn't taken any official visits and there has been talk of USC getting one of them as well as Iowa and Miami, but for now the Tide are clearly the team to beat. Kouandjio will take his officials following his season and likely won't make a decision until near Signing Day. He has been very quiet about the recruiting process and doesn't talk about schools often.
Owing Mills (Md.) offensive lineman Donovan Smith will be taking an official visit to Penn State this weekend, N.C. State on Nov. 12 and UCLA on Dec. 3. He has already visited Michigan State but the Spartans trail Penn State even before he takes his official to Happy Valley. Is there a chance he commits this weekend? Not likely, according to sources, but this visit should push the Nittany Lions further ahead.
Rumors began to fly this week that Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln defensive end/linebacker/tight end Ishaq Williams had committed to Notre Dame but that turned out to be false. Williams will take an official visit to Notre Dame in December and also wants to take officials to Penn State, Alabama and Syracuse, with USC and Miami still pushing. The problem? Williams is an early enrollee, his team is undefeated and seems headed for a deep playoff run so he will have limited time to take his trips. Notre Dame is thought to be the team to beat followed by Penn State. But Syracuse is an interesting darkhorse here. Both of his parents graduated from Syracuse and the team is off to a 5-2 start.
Matthews (N.C.) Butler athlete Kris Frost will be watching how Michigan finishes its season closely, according to sources. If Michigan finishes strong, Frost is likely to end up in Ann Arbor. However, his other favorite is Auburn and it could end up playing for a national title. Meanwhile, Michigan has lost back-to-back games with tough games ahead against Penn State, Wisconsin and Ohio State. Frost will take an official to Ann Arbor in November and also take an official to Auburn.
Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep running back Savon Huggins will take an official visit to North Carolina this weekend and has an official planned to Florida for Dec. 10. However, with the Gators picking up Mike Blakely this week, the Gators could be out of the running and some sources keep saying that Huggins is keeping an eye on Miami. But let's be real here, this has become a three-team race between Rutgers (the leader), UNC and Notre Dame. Pittsburgh is a long shot.