National Signing Day news
Gardner-Webb lands 17 recruits
BOILING SPRINGS — Gardner-Webb football announced a 17-man recruiting class Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA recruiting period for the sport.
The 2014 haul capped the first full recruiting cycle for head coach Carroll McCray, who recently completed a successful first season in charge of the Runnin’ Bulldogs. As the faxes rolled in on Wednesday, success was evident once again for McCray and his staff.
“We are certainly pleased with this group of young men who have chosen to be a part of our family,” said McCray. “We targeted a smaller pool than usual for this class – with a small outgoing class of seniors and a number of veterans returning for us next season. We were able to secure a very high percentage of our top targets and made sure we blanketed our local area and the southeast region. The quality of today’s group is a credit to our university, the staff and the student-athletes already in our football program.”
Gardner-Webb scoured the southeast for its entire class, with all 17 coming from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Alabama. The Runnin’ Bulldogs signed nine from North Carolina, three from South Carolina, three from Florida and one each from Georgia and Alabama.
Five members of the class played high school football within an hour drive of Gardner-Webb’s campus, including two Cleveland County products – nose guard Josh Ramseur (Shelby, N.C. / Burns HS) and receiver Ralph Jolly (Shelby, N.C. / Shelby HS).
Ramseur (5-11, 290) earned Class 3A All-State honors in 2013 from NCPreps.com and was the Cleveland County Player of the Year as a junior in 2012. Jolly (6-2, 180) helped the Golden Lions to a Class 2A State Championship this past season, catching 45 passes for 936 yards and five scores.
Eight of Wednesday’s signees earned All-State honors during their prep careers and one – standout quarterback Tyrell Maxwell (Cordova, S.C. / Edisto HS) played in the Shrine Bowl.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Maxwell recorded 8,905 yards of total offense and accounted for 93 touchdowns in his final three high school seasons – playing at the same high school that produced former Gardner-Webb All-America return man and NFL draft pick Terry Guess. Maxwell garnered scholarship offers from BCS programs Missouri and Georgia Tech as a defensive back following his junior season. He is rated as the nation’s No. 31 dual-threat quarterback prospect by ESPN.com in the Class of 2014.
Outside linebacker Matthew De La Vega (Miami, Fla. / South Miami HS) enrolled at Gardner-Webb in January and will participate in spring practice. The 6-foot-1, 230-pound standout was a Class 8A All-State selection following his senior season in 2012 at South Miami – when he recorded 11.0 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks and forced six fumbles.
2014 GWU Football Recruiting Class
Kerry Bernard * 5-9 * 190 * RB * Orlando, Fla. / Dr. Phillips HS
Trey Brice * 6-0 * 180 * WR * Gastonia, N.C. / Ashbrook HS
Matthew De La Vega * 6-1 * 230 * DE/LB * Miami, Fla. / South Miami HS
Kenyatta Dunbar * 5-11 * 205 * LB * Edgefield, S.C. / Strom Thurmond HS
Charlie Eudy * 6-4 * 250 * DL * Oakboro, N.C. / West Stanly HS
Laron Glenn * 6-2 * 265 * DE * Charlotte, N.C. / West Mecklenburg HS
Donte’ Gordon * 6-0 * 230 * LB * Buford, Ga. / Buford HS
Jacob Henderson * 5-10 * 180 * WR * Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge HS
Willie Jackson IV * 6-2 * 200 * WR * Mobile, Ala. / Faith Academy
Ralph Jolly * 6-2 * 180 * WR * Shelby, N.C. / Shelby HS
Khalil Lewis * 5-10 * 190 * RB * Hilton Head Island, S.C. / Hilton Head HS
Tyrell Maxwell * 6-2 * 205 * QB * Cordova, S.C. / Edisto HS
Kirk Messick * 6-2 * 200 * LB/SS * Wilmington, N.C. / Hoggard HS
Jeffrey Pegues * 6-0 * 195 * LB * Charlotte, N.C. / Mallard Creek HS
Paul Schumacher * 5-10 * 170 * P/PK * West Palm Beach, Fla. / The King’s Academy
Clay Shelton * 6-4 * 285 * OL * Oak Ridge, N.C. / Northwest Guilford HS
Josh Ramseur * 5-11 * 290 * NG * Shelby, N.C. / Burns HS
GWU Sports Information contributed to this report.
Hood leads 22-player class at North Carolina
CHAPEL HILL — From now on, North Carolina coach Larry Fedora won’t have to worry about having fewer scholarships to hand out.
Fedora announced a class of 22 players Wednesday during signing day — the Tar Heels’ last under NCAA sanctions that reduced the number of scholarships by 15 over three years.
Fedora says the sanctions meant “you can’t make mistakes because it’s affecting us depth-wise.”
The Tar Heels seemed to do just fine with their limited numbers.
The recruiting services say North Carolina signed one of its best classes in recent years. Rivals.com rated it the 20th-best class in the nation while Scout.com had it pegged at No. 31.
The key signee is Charlotte running back Elijah Hood. The state’s AP prep player of the year enrolled in January.
Tigers dip into Georgia for latest class
CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson reached across the border to Georgia to find a possible heir for record-setting quarterback Tajh Boyd and grab the nephew of Bulldogs Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker.
Tigers coach Dabo Swinney signed 22 players Wednesday, six of them from the neighboring Peach State.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson of Gainesville, Ga., is the state’s career record holder in total offense and combined touchdowns. He enrolled in January to try and compete for Boyd’s starting job.
Longtime Clemson fans still brag about how Walker never scored a touchdown in three games against the Tigers. Now, they’ve got something to else to hold over Walker with the signing of his nephew, tight end Milan Richard of Savannah, Ga.
The other Clemson-bound recruits from Georgia are running back Adam Choice of Thomasville; receiver Demarre Kitt of Fayetteville; receiver Kyrin Priester of Lilburn; and linebacker Korie Rogers of Flowery Branch.
All six of the Tigers’ Georgia signees had offers to play for the Bulldogs.
Still, Georgia finished with a highly regarded class of its own, and the Bulldogs take on the Tigers in the season opener in Athens, Ga., on Aug. 30.
South Carolina finds much-needed players on defense
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina signed a recruiting class heavy on defense and the in-state players that have helped the Gamecocks to their most successful seasons in history.
Coach Steve Spurrier targeted defensive players to replace stars like Jadeveon Clowney and Kelcy Quarles, juniors on the defensive line who left early for the NFL. The Gamecocks signed four defensive linemen and four cornerbacks and Spurrier said some of them might be on the field before the year is over.
“There is some opportunities for these freshman to play,” Spurrier said. “We’ll let them earn it as they go.
It was a typical Spurrier recruiting class. Spurrier picked up nine players from South Carolina, including several of the state’s prize recruits. He snatched defensive tackle Dexter Wideman, who was leaning toward Florida State and cornerback Chris Lammons, who was seriously considering Wisconsin. But they didn’t crack the top 20 in the major rankings.
But most of Spurrier’s classes have not been highly touted. But they have done unprecedented things on the field. The Gamecocks have gone 11-2 in each of the past three seasons. South Carolina only had one 10-win season when Spurrier took over in 2004.
“We don’t make a lot of noise on signing day for some reason. But we’ve got a lot of good players,” Spurrier said.
Whether South Carolina can find spots on the roster for all 21 signees is still up in the air. The team lost just five seniors and four juniors who left school early for the NFL draft. But Gamecocks recruiting coordinator Steve Spurrier Jr. said he thinks academic problems and other shifts will help sort things out.
The Gamecocks signed nine players from South Carolina, many of whom decided to come to the school as a group. In-state players like Clowney, running back Marcus Lattimore, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and defensive back Stephon Gilmore have helped the Gamecocks rise to the top of the Southeastern Conference.
“Biggest difference in our program has been to keep those guys in state,” Spurrier Jr. said.
Duke announces 18-player recruiting class
DURHAM — Duke rarely signs the highest rated recruits in football — even after one of the best seasons in school history.
Coach David Cutcliffe wants the right ones.
Cutcliffe announced an 18-player class Wednesday that’s evenly split between skill players and linemen.
The Blue Devils’ class was ranked 66th by Scout.com and tied for 55th by Rivals.com. As usual, it’s loaded with two- and three-star players.
Duke won a school-record 10 games and its first ACC Coastal Division title, climbed into the AP Top 25 and made consecutive bowl trips for the first time in program history, losing to Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Cutcliffe says the full effect of that success probably won’t be felt until future years but “our guys that were committed have never been more excited.”