Tarboro running back Todd Gurley, who is committed to the University of Georgia, made a huge jump in the
rivals.com national rankings. Gurley, the Associated Press high school player of the year in North Carolina, jumped from being listed among the top 250 prospects to a No. 42 national ranking.
He went from being a three- star to a five- star prospect.
Rivals' Mike Farrell saw Gurley at the Shrine Bowl Game of the Carolinas in December and was impressed.
Gurley is now ranked ahead of Millbrook running back Keith Marshall, who has enrolled at Georgia. Marshall is considered to be among the best running back prospects in the country and is ranked No. 48 overall. Gurley and Marshall both made The Associated Press all-state football team.
The Class of 2012 in North Carolina is strong. North Carolina has two players ranked among the top six prospects in the country on the rivals list. Offensive tackle D.J. Humphries of Charlotte Mallard Creek is ranked No. 2 in the nation , and defensive end Jonathan Bullard of Shelby Crest is No. 6.
Both are committed to Florida.
Of the 11 players in the state that rivals.com rank as four-star or higher, nine are headed out of state. There are six North Carolina high school players among the top 100 prospects in the country and all are expected to go to out-of-state schools.
Among the four-star players, N.C. State picked up quarterback James Summers of state 4AA champion Greensboro Page, and North Carolina has a commitment from offensive lineman J.J. Patterson of Roanoke Rapids.
Having the top players leaving the state is not only a North Carolina phenomenon, though. Last year, six of the top 10 prospects in Florida signed with out-of-state schools.
Marcus waits: Durham Hillside defensive tackle Jamal Marcus plans to announce his college decision on Feb. 1, the national letter of intent signing day. Marcus is ranked among the top 35 defensive end/outside linebacker prospects in the country. Rivals has him rated as a three-star prospect.
The 6-foot-3, 235-pound senior has visited East Carolina and was scheduled to go to Ohio State this weekend. He may also visit North Carolina and N.C. State.
Six of his Hillside teammates already have made college decisions: quarterback Collyn Anderson (Gardner-Webb), lineman Casey Perry (Gardner-Webb), cornerback Aaron Krah (Appalachian State), linebacker Anthony Mangum (N.C. A&T), defensive lineman Lamonte Melvin (Fayetteville State) and linebacker Lee Williams (Fayetteville State).
Hornets center Daniel Jordan is expected to pick either North Carolina A&T or UNC Charlotte.
Leaving home: Many of the top high school football players leave the state for their college career, but this year the trend is for some of the top high school basketball players to leave the state to finish their high school careers.
Five of espn.com's list of four- and five-star North Carolina seniors have been playing in other states. Leaving the state to play their senior season is not new - Kinston's Jerry Stackhouse transferred to Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., for example - but the exodus this year has been notable.
Guard Rodney Purvis is the top-ranked high school player in the state and he is expected to graduate from Raleigh Upper Room before enrolling at N.C. State. Guard Braxton Ogbueze, a Florida State recruit, is at Charlotte United Faith.
T.J. Warren, who has played at Durham Riverside and Raleigh Word of God, now is at Wolfeboro (N.H.) Brewster Academy, which is No. 1 in the SI.com rankings. He has signed with N.C. State. Tyler Lewis, another State recruit, left Forsyth Country Day to play at Oak Hill, which is 28-0 and is No. 2 in the SI.com rankings.
Codi Miller-McIntyre of Concord, a Wake Forest recruit, and Tarboro's Montrezl Harrell, a Virginia Tech recruit, are at Hargrave Military in Chatham, Va.
Torian Graham has attended Durham Hillside, Raleigh Word of God,. Chapel Hill's PACE Academy and Arlington (Fla.) Country Day. He is expected to finish the season at Creedmoor Christian Faith Center.
"We're still in the process, but Torian would like to come here and he has applied," said Geffrey Allen, a school vice principal. "I know that he enjoys playing basketball a great deal and anticipate him playing here."
Hicks expects to play: Isaiah Hicks, a 6-foot-8 University of North Carolina basketball recruit, scored 28 points in his season debut Friday night as Oxford Webb defeated Northern Vance 79-59.
Hicks played at Webb before transferring to Raleigh Body of Christ for last year. He transferred back to Webb this season, but he did not play during the first semester.
Hicks is committed to UNC. Asked if committing early to Carolina relieved some pressure, he said, "Yes, but that's not why I did it. I was always going to go to UNC. ... That's the right fit for me."
Football rankings: The final analysis can't be made until the recruits sign, but scout.com currently has the Atlantic Coast Conference expected incoming class to be behind only the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12. Commitments are not binding until after players sign national letters.
Scout.com, an online recruiting service, has Miami's incoming class ranked No. 6 in the country. The Hurricanes are followed by Clemson (13), Florida State (16), Virginia (24), Virginia Tech (29), Maryland (39), N.C. State (45), Georgia Tech (48), North Carolina (49), Duke (61), Boston College (62) and Wake Forest (70).
W.E. Warnock contributed to this story.