Football recruiting: More in-state players choosing NC State, UNC, Duke

jgiglio@newsobserver.comFebruary 4, 2014 

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    Four of the top 10 in-state recruits are coming to the Triangle, but the SEC is still getting its share of top players:

    Rivals top 10Ht, WtHometownCollege
    1. Elijah Hood, RB5-11, 221CharlotteUNC
    2. Kentavius Street, DE6-2, 267GreenvilleN.C. State
    3. Will Grier, QB6-2, 177DavidsonFlorida
    4. Jeb Blazevich, TE6-5, 240CharlotteGeorgia
    5. Trevion Thompson, WR6-2, 184DurhamClemson
    6. Bentley Spain, OL6-6, 285CharlotteUNC
    7. Harold Landry, DE6-2, 224FayettevilleBoston College
    8. Derrell Scott, RB5-10, 181HavelockTennessee
    9. Germaine Pratt, S6-3, 200High PointN.C. State
    10. Braxton Berrios, WR5-9, 180RaleighMiami

    The five Bowl Subdivision schools in the state have had their troubles keeping the best players home since 2010. Where the top 30 recruits from each class have gone:

    Rivals top 30 recruits20142013201220112010
    SEC49852
    N.C. State92414
    UNC55597
    Duke20304
    Wake Forest11032
    East Carolina00000

More of the best high school football players in the state of North Carolina will stay home this year.

Seventeen of the top 30 players ranked in the state, according to Rivals, will make their commitments official Wednesday on “National Signing Day.”

N.C. State leads the in-state contingent with nine of the top 30 recruits, North Carolina has five, Duke has two and Wake Forest has one. The total is almost double last year’s haul (nine) by the in-state Bowl Subdivision programs and the most since 2010.

More is better, but the progress is relative, said Mike Farrell, the national recruiting analyst for Rivals.

“The state didn’t get raided like it usually does,” Farrell said, “but six of the top 10 still left. That’s not great.”

To Farrell’s point, Florida poached top quarterback Will Grier, from Davidson; Georgia got Charlotte Christian tight end Jeb Blazevich, and Miami grabbed Leesville Road receiver Braxton Berrios.

But UNC got the top in-state prospect, Charlotte Catholic running back Elijah Hood, to flip from Notre Dame. N.C. State landed the second-rated recruit in the state in Greenville Rose defensive end Kentavius Street.

Hood, who ran for 3,690 yards and 53 touchdowns as a senior, is the only five-star prospect in the state, according to Rivals’ rankings. Farrell said the in-state class isn’t as strong as other recent ones, which might be one reason the SEC had its fewest number of top 30 recruits since 2010.

The SEC, led by Georgia and South Carolina, routinely has gotten the state’s best players. The Bulldogs authored the most inglorious chapter of out-of-state poaching when they scooped highly rated running backs Todd Gurley (Tarboro) and Keith Marshall (Raleigh) in 2012.

The top overall in-state player from each class in 2013, ’12 and ’11 all chose the SEC. In the four previous classes, the SEC signed 15 of the 40 top 10 recruits in the state. By comparison, only 11 stayed home.

“Basketball rules in North Carolina,” Farrell said. “Sorry, it just does. Until one of those schools has a breakthrough nationally, the SEC will continue to come and get its share of top recruits.”

Pack gets aggressive

Still, Farrell said, the Triangle programs are starting to make strides. UNC, heading into Larry Fedora’s third season, has 23 commitments, and its class ranks 20th in the country, according to Rivals.

N.C. State, in coach Dave Doeren’s second season, has 30 commitments in the class, which ranks No. 27 nationally by Rivals, and Duke’s 18-man class ranks No.  57, tied with Wake Forest’s.

The improvement by the Wolfpack, despite a 3-9 finish in Doeren’s first season, is noticeable, Farrell said. N.C. State’s 2013 class, which was a combination of Doeren and former coach Tom O’Brien, ranked 47th and was preceded by a No. 53 ranking in 2012 and No.  87 in 2011.

“They didn’t have a good season, but they’re doing a good job recruiting,” Farrell said. “They’re really good at what they do. They’re aggressive and energetic.

“That was the knock against O’Brien’s group; they weren’t out there hustling.”

Greenville Rose coach Dave Wojtecki said the N.C. State staff reached out to Street shortly after they were hired in January 2013. Street, a four-star prospect ranked 43rd nationally, chose the Wolfpack over the SEC’s Mississippi and appreciated Doeren’s extra effort.

“(Doeren) was the only head coach that visited,” Wojtecki said. “That means a lot when the head coach takes time out to see a kid.”

Can’t get them all

Leesville coach Chad Smothers had a pretty good idea early in the recruiting process that Berrios, his star receiver, would leave the state. Berrios, the 10th-rated recruit in the state, has family in south Florida. The four-star receiver chose Miami over Oregon.

“You’re going to have kids leave for different reasons,” Smothers said. “There’s a certain appeal to national programs and national rankings and playing in big stadiums.”

But Smothers said the current group of Triangle coaches have a made a hard push to keep up. He even noted, like Oregon, UNC has gotten the attention of some players with their uniform varieties.

“The in-state programs are really starting to mirror the national programs,” Smothers said. “The in-state programs are getting better, and they are serious about winning and are treating football like it’s second-to-none.”

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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