On Sunday, March 24, the Garden Homes Lutheran School Vikings (24th and Roosevelt- Milwaukee) secured the National Lutheran Basketball Tournament of Champions crown with a 39-35 victory over Central Lutheran of New Haven, IN. Earlier victories over Lutheran Interparish School of Williamsburg, IA (69-51), Risen Savior Lutheran School of Mankato, MN (46-31), Holy Cross Lutheran School of Ft. Wayne, IN (53-26), and Faith Lutheran School of Las Vegas, NV (45-42 OT), got GHLS to the championship game. The tournament, hosted at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, IN, brings Lutheran grade school basketball teams from all over America to compete against each other. The GHLS Vikings qualified for the national tournament by winning the Wisconsin State Championship on March 3. They ended their 2012-13 basketball season with a 27 wins, 1 loss record.
by Troy Sparks
Chicago‑If there was any indication of seeing future pro talent on display at the United Center, April 3, I wondered where it was hiding. One of the girl’s teams didn’t show up to play in the 12th annual McDonald’s All-American Games at the United Center.
When 24 of the best girls’ basketball players were selected to show the country why they deserved to play for some of the top Division 1 colleges and some of them played like middle- school kids, then it was enough to demand a refund
The East team played less than inspiring ball and fell behind all night. I know that it was an all-star game, but at least that team could’ve shown some more effort. They knocked an 18-point lead in the first half down to 10 and then fell behind in the second half, losing by 28.
Was it that the West had too much talent in their 92-64 win? Maybe so. That was the worst beating that a McDonald’s All-American team took since the East won the sixth annual game, 105-76 (29 point margin) in 2007 in Louisville.
You know how all-star games are played. They’re usually sloppy with some razzle-dazzle mixed up in it along with some fancy passes to excite the crowd and very little defense played. If the defense will open the lane and let the offense drive down the middle, the other team would be a fool not to take it.
The girls’ game was fun for at least 23 of the 24 participants. One of them was injured when she was fouled going to the basket after stealing the ball. West’s Rebecca Greenwell re-injured her MCL. She had a brace on the right knee and limped to the bench. Greenwell was instrumental in getting the West off to a good start and finished with eight points before the injury forced her to leave.
“(Greenwell) hit her first two threes and we started to motivate her,” West teammate and Chicago Whitney Young player Linnae Harper said. “Even when she got hurt, we cheered her up. She helped a lot.”
Greenwell, from Owensboro, KY, is headed to Duke along with two of her West teammates in Oderah Chidom (Oakland, CA) and Kendall Cooper (Carson, CA). The coaching staff had better hope that Greenwell can recover in time for the upcoming season. Last season, Greenwell averaged 25 points per game and Duke will need every bit of her offensive firepower.
Mercedes Russell, from Springfield, OR, put on a show and earned MVP honors. She finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and three block shots. The Tennessee-bound player was disappointed about her future school’s loss in the NCAA Women’s Tournament.
“That (game) was very interesting,” Russell said, “because (Tennessee and Louisville) were my last two schools (to select). (Tennessee) didn’t come out to win. I thought it was a pretty good game the first half.” The Volunteers lost to the Cardinals in the regional finals with a trip to the Final Four on the line.
As I looked at the roster from the Boys East and West teams for the 36th annual contest, I wondered what was on the minds of six of those young men who decided to go to Kentucky. We all know that Coach John Calipari runs something like an NBA minor-league factory down there in Lexington. It must have been some impressive presentation that convinced all six of them to sign their names on the dotted line.
It’s funny how manipulation and a little pressure can stress young minds to hurry up and pick a school like Kentucky that doesn’t guarantee them any real playing time as freshmen next season. Only one of the two McDonald’s All-Americans from last year left the Kentucky program for the NBA, and Archie Goodwin is projected to be drafted near the bottom of the first round.
I saw two of the Kentucky commits from this year play in last summer’s NY2LA Summer Jam AAU tournament. I thought at the time that either one or both of the Harrison twins would become McDonald’s All-Americans. Andrew and Aaron started in the game for the West team and should be immediate contributors for the Wildcats when they arrive on campus.
When it was time for the brothers to narrow their choices, they decided that it would be both of them or none of them, so whoever was lucky enough to get them would have to take them as a package deal. They probably will be highly upset if Calipari refuses to let them room together.
Aaron Gordon, from San Jose, CA, had enough influence to make some schools wait until he was ready to announce his college choice. It came down to Washington, Kentucky, Oregon and Arizona. He chose to play for Arizona. The Wildcats will get a 6-foot-8 player who averaged 23.6 points per game and likes to dunk a lot. He was the MVP of the boys’ game with 24 points in 24 minutes for the West team in their 110-99 win over the East.
Gordon took in all the surroundings of the United Center and will never forget it. “I like to think of myself as a humble person,” he said. “So, just lining up while they’re singing the National Anthem, I was just looking around at all the people. It kind of felt like that I made it at this point and time and that I made it to the highest level that I can possibly do right now.”
Wide-Ranging Group to Focus on Addressing Issues That Influence the Talent Pipeline to Professional Baseball
Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig today announced the creation of an On-Field Diversity Task Force to address the talent pipeline that impacts the representation and development of diverse players and on-field personnel in Major League Baseball, particularly African-Americans.
The wide-ranging group, which includes representatives from Club ownership, Club front offices, MLB’s Central Office, Minor League Baseball, former players, the Major League Baseball Players Association, the MLB Scouting Bureau, and collegiate baseball, will focus on the myriad of issues influencing on-field diversity at all levels of baseball.
“As a social institution, Major League Baseball has an enormous social responsibility to provide equal opportunities for all people, both on and off the field,” said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig.
“I am proud of the work we have done thus far with the RBI program and the MLB Urban Youth Academies, but there is more that we must accomplish. We have seen a number of successful efforts with existing MLB task forces, and I believe we have selected the right people to effectively address the many factors associated with diversity in baseball.”
Members of the Commissioner’s On-Field Diversity Task Force include:
• Stuart Sternberg – Principal Owner, Tampa Bay Rays; MLB Diversity Oversight Committee Chairman
• Dave Dombrowski – President, Chief Executive Officer & General Manager, Detroit Tigers; On-Field Diversity Task Force Chairman
• Tom Brasuell – MLB Vice President of Community Affairs (representing Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities)
• Roger Cador – Baseball Head Coach, Southern University (Historically Black College & University)
• Tony Clark – Director of Player Services, Major League Baseball Players Association
• Larry Dolan – Cleveland Indians; MLB Diversity Oversight Committee Advisor
• Dennis Gilbert – Special Assistant to Chicago White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf • Derrick Hall – President & Chief Executive Officer, Arizona Diamondbacks
• Wendy Lewis – MLB Senior Vice President of Diversity & Strategic Alliances
• Jerry Manuel – MLB Network Analyst; Major League Manager (1998-2003; 2008-2010); 2000 A.L. Manager of the Year
• Frank Marcos – Senior Director, MLB Scouting Bureau
• Jonathan Mariner – MLB Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
• Darrell Miller – MLB Vice President of Youth & Facility Development (representing MLB Urban Youth Academy)
• Bernard Muir – Athletic Director, Stanford University
• Kim Ng – MLB Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations
• Pat O’Conner – President & Chief Executive Officer, Minor League Baseball
• Frank Robinson – Hall of Famer; MLB Executive Vice President of Baseball Development
• Ken Williams – Executive Vice President, Chicago White Sox
According to the Player Diversity Report (released on 11/13/12), the diversity of the Player Profile on 40-Man Major League rosters was 62% Caucasian, 28% Hispanic, 8% African-American, 1% Asian, and 0.2% Native American.
And according to MLB records, which is a collection of data compiled by the clubs, the percentage of players on 2013 Opening Day, 25-Man Major League rosters who identified themselves as African-American or black was approximately 8.5%, which is in a consistent range with the past few years. The first round of the 2012 First- Year Player Draft featured the selections of seven African-American players, the most by total and percentage (7-of-31, 22.6%) since 1992.
Major League Baseball operates two youth initiatives designed specifically to address on-field diversity:
• The Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program and its Jr. RBI playing divisions provide opportunities for young people (ages 5 to 18) from underserved communities to play baseball and softball. RBI has served more than 1 million young people since 1989, and in 2012, had more than 210,000 participants around the country, in Canada and in Latin America. MLB Clubs have drafted more than 200 RBI participants, including 14 players in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.
• MLB Urban Youth Academies provide free, year-round and intensive baseball and softball instruction and educational programs for young people from underserved and urban communities. Seven MLB Urban Youth Academies are either operational or in development around the country and in Puerto Rico (Operational: Compton, California; Houston, Texas; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Gurabo, Puerto Rico; In development: Cincinnati, Ohio; Hialeah, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). MLB Urban Youth Academies have served more than 10,000 young people, with more than 90% of its participants in the United States reflecting a diverse segment of the respective local communities. Since 2006, nearly 200 Academy student-athletes have been selected in the First- Year Player Draft, including 17 in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.
A contingent of athletes and officials from Milwaukee will be representing Wisconsin in the 2013 USA National Boxing Championships to be held the week of April 1st – 6th at the Northern Quest Resort in Spokane, Washington.
Head coach Israel “Shorty” Acosta, Boxing Coach for the 1994 USA Olympic team in Sydney Australia and long time United Community Center trainer, along with Assistant coach Angel Villarreal, Jr., will lead a lineup of seven Milwaukee athletes including two local female champions.
They include two nationally recognized boxers, Thomas Hill (152lbs) and Luis Feliciano (132lbs), who will be competing in the Elite Open Division.
In the Open Division competition Jesse Villarreal (123lbs) and Javier Martinez (152lbs) will provide some exciting action along with Heavy weight John Luna the reigning 2012 National Jr. Olympic Heavy Weight champion who recently went undefeated (4-0) in the Veles Cup World boxing competition held in Kergen, Russia.
Rounding out the team are two dynamic sisters Amoranix (141lbs Elite Open) and Marlisa (132lbs Open) Stamps.
Over 400 hundred entrants have registered for the tournament and will be representing athletes from every part of the country.
The first bouts are scheduled to begin Monday April 1st with the championship bouts closing out the tournament April 6th.
Also representing Wisconsin is a veteran group of USA amateur boxing officials who will be participating as officials and tournament staff. Internationally recognized referee Angel Villarreal (USA Boxing Chief of officials), Anna Villarreal (Judge) and local Attorney Roy Evans, who is serving as tournament announcer, will all be playing vital roles at the event. Coach Acosta says, “Giving our kids experience and an opportunity to get to show their talent on a national stage against the countries best can’t get any better.
“These kids work very hard and deserve our encouragement and support. Now we get a chance to see if we can make their dedication and hard work to pay off.”
A press conference/reception for the athletes and sponsors will be planned shortly after tournament.
Wisconsin Golden Gloves Tournament is scheduled for Saturday April 6th, 13th and finals on Saturday April 20th starting at 7p.m., Dr. John Bryant Center in Racine Wisconsin.
For more information contact Wisconsin Amateur information see: www.wisconsinboxing.com
Milwaukee Bucks Guard Monta Ellis lays one up for two points during the Bucks win over the Orlando Magic, 115-109 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Ellis was the hottest star on the court,scoring 19 points over the final 6:32 minutes of the game, as he almost single-handedly rallied the Bucks (now 33-32 for the season) from a 97-85 deficit. (Photo by Bill Tennessen)
Riverside girls basketball player Alona Johnson hoists the Division One state basketball trophy with some help from her teammates after they defeated Mukwonago 55-41 in Green Bay.
by Troy Sparks
On St. Patrick’s Day, something good happened. It did with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Marquette men’s team. The Milwaukee Riverside girls basketball team had good luck the night before when they won the Division 1 state championship, Mar. 16, in Green Bay.
The Bucks were seven games ahead of Toronto for the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference playoff standings entering their home game with Orlando with a 32- 32 mark. They’re trying to avoid playing Miami in the first round of the playoffs. The Heat clinched a playoff spot and is occupying the penthouse.
Early on, the Magic didn’t play like an 18-48 team that was in the outhouse of the Eastern Conference. So it was obvious that they were feeling lucky after a 54- 44 lead at the half.
Orlando took the crowd out of the game and wished that the Bucks put those retro 90s green and purple uniforms away.
It was a different story in the second half for the Bucks. They scored 71 points in the third and fourth quarters. It was like watching a Western Conference game. Milwaukee scored a whopping 45 points in the last quarter alone.
Both teams were either content in having a shootout or didn’t care to play any defense. A lack of D was missing from the Bucks, but they won the game, 115- 109 behind Monta Ellis season-high of 39 points.
“I’m happy that we won the game,” Milwaukee coach Jim Boylan said. “I’m concerned with the way that we’re playing right now. You can’t rely on scoring 45 points in the fourth quarter to pull a game out at home.”
A lack of effort on defense some nights is a big problem with this Milwaukee Bucks team. They don’t make enough stops on the defensive end and let teams hang around where the outcome can swing either way.
“The defensive end is where the problems are, period,” Boylan said. “We’re not committed to it. We don’t play hard enough. Defense is a first effort. Defense is a second effort. “Defense is a third effort. Defense is a fourth effort and defense is a rebound. And we give one effort, maybe two, and that’s it.”
Boylan is tired of seeing the same old output night in and night out from his team. It’s a team that the average fan might see going through the motions and think that they have the playoffs locked up.
“We need to turn it up and we need to be a serious team,” Boylan said. “We’re not playing like a serious team.”
Luck found the Marquette men’s team as they gathered inside the Marquette Annex building with coaches, media and other guests. They roared when they saw on TV who they would be playing in the second round, where and when.
They face Davidson on Thursday, Mar. 21, in Lexington, KY, in the East Regional. If they win their first game, they could face either Butler or Bucknell. The Golden Eagles are a No. 3 seed.
“I don’t know about the (Davidson) players,” coach Buzz Williams said. “I know that they were back-toback league champs in the Southern Conference. But other than that, I don’t know much about their personnel.” Here a hint, coach: Contact UWM coach Rob Jeter because they beat Davidson at the Klotsche Center (73-68, Nov. 17) and get your hands on some film of that game.
As for whether he expected his team to get a No. 3 seed, Williams thought it was earned based on playing tough teams in non-conference action.
“I think that the committee is much more aware and probably paying more attention to out of conference scheduling,” he said. “I think in our tenure here, each year, we have become more accountable.
“The problem is, when you go on the road, you probably at times going to get smacked like we did at Florida (82-49, Nov. 29). But in the end, it comes back and helps you because it proves to the committee that you were willing to try.”
It’s the job of outgoing senior guard Junior Cadougan to keep his team focused to the task at hand and not to look ahead, thinking that either mid-major team (Bucknell or Butler) will fold against a high-major team. “This is the last straw for me,” he said. “We just have to come with that hunger and (remember) what got us to this point and just come ready to play at all times, every possession.”
I was a non-believer of the Milwaukee Riverside girls basketball team at first. MCJ sales representative Jimmy Johnson, who’s related to freshman guard Alona Johnson, didn’t know that I didn’t have the Tigers winning the City Conference championship in 2012-13, which they did.
They were ranked at the top in preseason, won the first game, lost four in a row and won every game after that. The Tigers reeled off 23 straight wins to claim the title over Mukwonago, 55-41, and finished with a 24-4 record.
When I watched them on TV and saw the confidence in the Tigers that they were going to complete their mission, I was a believer. They had 6-foot-5 senior center Breanna Lewis, Alona Johnson and Amari Wilborn. They wore black T-shirts that said, “Gold Ball or Bust.” They brought home the gold ball, which hasn’t happened for a City team since 2009.
King’s Austin Malone-Mitchell plays defense against a Mukwonago player in the state semifinals, Mar. 8, in Madison.
by Troy Sparks
Madison – There were some mixed results at the boys state basketball tournament held recently at the Kohl Center. Enthusiasm and fan turnout was high in the semifinal rounds of the five divisions and the interest waned after people headed for the exits with 3 minutes left when Germantown had the game in the bag in a blowout win against Mukwonago to win their second Division 1 title.
Last year, many people hung around to see if the David in Milwaukee King and their small lineup could upset Goliath in Germantown in a thrilling finish. The Generals were a made three-point shot away from sending the game into overtime.
King coach Jim Gosz ruled Madison once upon a time when he had great teams and great players with Division 1 college scholarship offers in their back pockets. He keeps getting his teams back to state, but the WIAA didn’t have to hand the gold championship ball to either King or Madison Memorial this year.
Enter Mukwonago, who took out both powerhouses in consecutive weeks. The Indians stunned Memorial in the sectional finals to make it to state since 1996. They used their big bodies and pace of the game to beat King in the state semifinals, Mar. 8. It didn’t surprise any of the players on the Mukwonago team that no one believed that they could pull off back-to-back upsets.
“I guess being the underdog, we don’t look ourselves as an underdog,” Mukwonago’s Nate Tanguay said. “We always think that we’re the better team, and the only team that can beat us is us.”
Try telling that to King, who was looking for a rematch with Germantown. For some reason, they clammed up at a time when they needed to crank up the heat. The slow-down pace by Mukwonago threw off the Generals’ rhythm in the second half. It also didn’t help that the City co-champs couldn’t hit the side of the barn with 22 percent from the field to show for it (6-for-27). They couldn’t bang in the paint against the Indians, who had some football players on the team.
“Mukwonago beat us in every aspect of the game,” Gosz said. “They got the loose balls. They won it (Friday). Sometimes the better team just beats you. We get to the middle (of the lane) and they just have those big kids in there and that’s the way we were winning games. This game humbles you real quick. You just feel for your young men who battled all year. I feel for my guys, especially my seniors.”
So maybe Gosz will go back to the drawing board and get some stocky guys from the King football team to throw around their weight on the hardwood next season. It’s not a knock on King by saying that they can’t play physical, but if you can get a big lumberjack guy in the game to push another big kid on the other team around, regardless of his lack of basketball skills, it would help.
“(Mukwonago) got the ball down low,” Gosz said. “We had three guys on their arms and they were able to bench press the ball right up into the basket. Those are competitive kids. I’ll tell you what. I’m going to see a Mukwonago football game next year.”
The Indians tried to employ the same strategy on Germantown, another up-tempo team, in the state title game, Mar. 9. The Warhawks are used to adapting to another team’s style of play. They prefer to run, but if they had to throw some elbows and push in the lane, so be it. Whatever the opponent’s style was for that day, they could accommodate.
In typical Germantown fashion, they got off to a fast start, but Mukwonago kept up with them a little bit until they faded away in the first half. The Indians’ problem had much to do with their shot selection, and they had nothing left to stay with the Warhawks in the second half.
“They do so many things so well,” Mukwonago coach Jim Haassler said. “You try to take this away and they burn you with that, so you kind of pick your poison. I thought the game was going well for us. Had we sank some shots, what that would have done for the rest of the game might have been intriguing.” The Indians were 9-for-43 ((21 percent) from the field.
It wasn’t the offensive results that Germantown coach Steve Showalter expected from two of his best shooters in juniors Lamonte Bearden and Jake Showalter. Both shot a combined 2-for-16 in the title game. Bearden was perfect from the field (4-for-4) and Showalter made seven threes, tying the Division 1 record for threes made in a state tournament game, in their win against Oshkosh North.
“We wanted Lamonte to have a really good game from the field and he was 1-for-11,” Steve Showalter said. “We wanted Jake to light it up from outside. He was 1-for-5. I don’t know what happened. We’re used to scoring 80 points a game. Our guys were sitting on the bench and not making shots. I can’t even explain what happened.”
If it wasn’t for Mukwonago missing shots and the Germantown defense saving the day at times when they needed stops, it would have been a different ballgame. But it was enough of an effort by the Warhawks to capture their second straight championship.
They have a 56-game winning streak and back-to-back undefeated seasons. King and Oshkosh West won back-to-back titles in recent years, but neither team had back-to-back seasons without a loss. Germantown went out like winners again. Fischer was voted Mr. Basketball in the state of Wisconsin this year. Perhaps it’s too early to talk about a three-peat.
by Troy Sparks
The remaining boys teams that are still standing are in sectional play with the berth to the state tournament in Madison, Mar. 8-9. There haven’t been any real surprises as some of the favorites breezed through the regionals.
Germantown hasn’t lost a game since the Super Sectional final in 2011. They have been to state twice and came away empty-handed. Last year, the Warhawks won their first state title. They’re faster and press more than last year’s squad and blowing out teams along the way by a big margin. They are the favorites to repeat as state champs.
G-Town has depth, speed, talent and a 7-footer who’s headed to Indiana. If you get past their full-court press, big Luke Fischer will be standing in the lane waiting for you to throw up a shot so he can block it. Dump it down low to him and he will throw up jump hooks, scoop shots and an occasional dunk if you’re too short to stop it.
The Warhawks are a finesse team, but if they have to play physical, they will accommodate anyone’s request. A likely sectional final rematch against a very physical De Pere team at Homestead with a trip to state on the line won’t be for the faint of heart.
In the dog-eat-dog Racine Horlick sectional, the dog that comes to the fight with more bite will limp into Madison and escape with some bumps and bruises. Most of the City Conference teams are thrown into that sectional so they can cancel each other out.
The WIAA did it that way, I think, because they got tired of seeing two Milwaukee teams in the state finals. The reason is simple: Milwaukee fans don’t bring enough money when they go to Madison. People drive the 75 miles back and forth, not staying overnight in hotels and not buying a lot of souvenirs and food to help the bottom line expenses of the tournament. It is disappointing to WIAA officials.
One City Conference school could be at state among the three teams left in the Horlick sectional. The team that would throw a monkey wrench into the equation is Racine Case. They will play Milwaukee Hamilton in one sectional semifinal game at home. King and Vincent will meet in the other semifinal at Milwaukee South.
King lost to Vincent early in the season and the Generals remembered it well. They are ready for the Vikings this time, so said King’s Austin Malone-Mitchell. If you thought Germantown can put pressure on teams, King’s vice grip pressure is worse.
What the Generals lack in size is made up in hard work and determination. Beating Vincent will set up a King vs. Case sectional final at Horlick. I still think Germantown will win their second title in a row.
I’d like to see Milwaukee Washington make it to state in Division 2, but then I have to be realistic and say that it may not happen. If the Purgolders make it to Madison, it will be the first time since 2009. Whitefish Bay Dominican will run the tables and go to Madison again.
On the girls side, the sectional to watch is West Allis Central. There are some interesting matchups in the regionals to attend. A Riverside and Brookfield Central at Riverside is one game to keep an eye on, barring any upset of either team.
Another matchup is at Divine Savior Holy Angels between DSHA and King. Arike Ogunbowale and Shaq Fowler, super sophomores, friends and teammates on the U-13 national championship team in 2011 and frequent attendees of Marquette women’s basketball home games, will likely exchange pleasantries before the game. After the game starts, there will be some pushing, shoving, bumping hard fouling and everything else in the mix because the stakes are higher.
Put in there some jawing, probably between “AO” and “Shaq”, swearing, both coaches working the officials and the usual screaming by spectators in a noisy gym that seats maybe 500 and you have an environment that won’t be pretty to see.
I think Riverside will beat DSHA in the sectional semifinals and Oak Creek will beat Franklin in the other semifinals. The Tigers are a good bet to beat the Knights and go to state in Green Bay. My other predictions for state in Division 1 are De Pere, who should win state again, Verona and Sussex Hamilton. The girls state tournament is Mar. 15-16.
Will Reddick Help Team Make Playoffs?
There were rumors that guard Monta Ellis would be traded to Atlanta for Josh Smith. Smith once said that there’s nothing to do in Milwaukee when the Hawks came here for the playoffs. Smith would have to deal with living in Milwaukee if he was traded to the Bucks.
Since that didn’t happen, Ellis is still here until at least the end of the season. The Bucks traded for shooting guard J.J. Reddick, hoping he can give them some scoring depth and relieve Ellis and Brandon Jennings of some minutes. If Reddick is in the game a lot, that will take minutes away from somebody else.
According to Bucks general manager John Hammond, Reddick is here for one reason, and that’s to help the team reach the playoffs. If that experiment doesn’t work out, then Hammond has to second-guess if it was worth sending Doron Lamb, Tobias Harris and Beno Udrih away. We will see if this will help the team get into the playoffs.
For the seventh time in eight years FROM THE PRESS BOX TO PRESS ROW has ranked the top 10 HBCU FCS recruiting classes. This week, we look at the other half of the rankings, from six to 10. The rankings are based on the talent that was brought in and research that we did based upon school releases, local newspaper articles and recruiting boards. This is not an exact science, but an opinion.
Brian Jenkins and his staff had a solid recruiting class. The Wildcats signed 23; four of those players had previous college experience at JUCOs.
The Wildcats placed a major emphasis on offense signing 19. Quarterback Larry Brihm (Delray Beach, FL/Village Academy) is a two-star recruit and is one of three quarterbacks that signed, potentially giving the Wildcats a total of five quarterbacks when summer camp opens. Former Mr. Football in Florida Quentin Williams ultimately became the starter for the Wildcats last year, but Jenkins is very impatient with and demanding of his quarterbacks, sometimes playing all three in games last year.
All-MEAC running back Isidore Jackson returns while Rodney Scott is lost to graduation prompting the Wildcats to add a pair of two-star backs in Dre’Sean Nelson (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Dillard) and Nathaniel Pryor (Sebastian, FL/Sebastian River). Jenkins and staff also placed an emphasis on the offensive line signing six, highlighted by two-star recruit Dazzie Morris (Apopka, FL/Apopka), as well as wide receiver signing four including two-star recruit Devonte Washington (Jacksonville,
Fla./Raines). Defensive lineman Anthony Green was the Wildcats highest rated recruit with three stars and could play immediately. Green was virtually unblockable in high school and while only 6-1, 245, could start out playing end for the Wildcats, put on some weight and eventually move to his naturally position of tackle.
He was offered by Cincinnati and Western Kentucky. The Wildcats signed only one player from the Daytona Beach area which is rare.
7. Florida A&M
FAMU son Earl Holmes, who took over for the legendary Joe Taylor, who abruptly retired with two games remaining in the 2012 season, took on the same philosophy as Taylor to recruit in the home State of Florida. Each year, Taylor and his coaches visited every school in the state. Holmes, who had the interim tag removed last month, stuck with that philosophy of recruiting Florida, signing 13 of 20 from the Sunshine State, including five from Tallahassee schools.
Speaking of Tallahassee, three of the Rattlers two-star recruits are Tallahassee products including linebacker Luke Helms (Godby), who turned down 10 offers including from Memphis and Western Michigan to stay at home, offensive lineman Chole Sims (Lincoln) and defensive back Craig Mackey (Rickards). Linebacker Curtis Alexander (Quincy, FL/East Gadsden) wasn’t highly recruited, but put up some big numbers last year with 76 tackles, 9 tackles for loss and 21.5 sacks. The Rattlers should get some immediate help at running back with Arizona JUCO transfer Lemond Buice who originally signed with Clemson, was a two-time finalist for Mr. Football in the State of Alabama and the No. 40 running back in the nation. Offensive lineman Keonte Cash (Miami, FL/Belen Jesuit Prep) was a first team All-Area performer in Miami and at 6-1, 300 the two-star recruit has the ability to play fullback. In all the Rattlers signed eight offensive players, 10 defensive players and two athletes.
8. Alcorn State
Head coach Jay Hopson had the decked stacked against him a bit coming into last season. He was trying to turn around a traditionally proud Alcorn State program that has fallen on hard times.
The problem was he wasn’t hired until May. The Braves showed some promise last year and for his first recruiting class Hopson signed 26 players, 16 from the State of Mississippi. The prized recruit has to be two-star quarterback Khadarel Hodge (Mendenhall, MS/Mendenhall). Because of his athleticism, other schools wanted him to play other positions.
But Hodge will have a chance to compete for the starting job. Hodge says the late Steve McNair is his cousin and he wants to break his records at ASU. There will be a battle at the position in the summer as the Braves signed another quarterback in
Lenorris Footman (Monticello, FL/Jefferson County) who is also a two-star recruit and also brings tremendous athleticism to the position.
Footman was first team All-State out of the Tallahassee, FL area. Linebacker Stacey Garner (Brooklyn, MS/Forrest County) is another two-star recruit and one who could come in and have an immediate impact.
Also highlighting the Braves signings are two big offensive linemen from Hinds Community College in Ronald Perry (6-5, 290) and Jeremy Toines (6-5, 300).
9. Jackson State
There were some gems in Rick Comegy and his staff’s class. The coaches are high on linebacker Stacy Noble (Ft. Pierce, FL/Ft. Pierce Central), who they feel can come in and play right away.
The Tigers have had some good linebackers over the years (2008 Boxtorow Defensive Player of the Year Marcellus Speaks comes to mind) but none with the speed the two-star recruit possesses. The Tigers added another linebacker in Marquis Parker (Lithonia, GA/Martin Luther King) another two-star recruit.
Another player that Comegy and his staff really like is ATH Jarious Moore (Terry, MS/ Terry) who played quarterback but will move to another position – at
least from the onset. Linebacker Javancy Jones (Macon, MS/Noxubee County HS), a two-star prospect, was a first team All-State selection and is also one that could have an immediate impact.
10. Delaware State
DSU head football coach Kermit Blount signed just seven players but filled needs. The most glaring need was at the quarterback position where MEAC Offensive Player of the Year Nick Elko is lost to graduation. The Hornets staff signed two quarterbacks including Garrison Duncan (Kernersville, NC/East Forsyth), a two-star performer who passed for 1,505 yards and 17 TDs and rushed for 1,410 yards and 18 scores and Emmett Hunt of Coatesville, PA who completed 157 of 247 passes (63.6 percent) for 3,123 yards and 44 touchdowns. Elko also played as a true freshman and one of these guys will be the quarterback of the future for the Hornets. DSU also signed a receiver in Marquel Knight a two-time Delaware All-State selection at Indian River High School. Knight tallied 73 receptions for nearly 1,200 yards in 2012 for the Indians. He also rushed for 1,800 yards and 30 touchdowns during his senior season. Hopefully Knight can play right away and try and fill one of the voids left by Travis Tarpley and Justin Wilson.
Running back was a need also and Jamaal Jackson was a former three-star recruit at Hodgson, rushed for 1,577 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior and transferred from Nassau Community College.