On the way to my first vacation (only two days) in since 1999, I want to update you on some of the top prospects I encountered in South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Illinois used to be a dominant and omni-present factor in the Maryland/D.C. area--until recruiting whiz Mike Locksley left to become head coach at New Mexico. Illinois also was strong in Florida. But the Illini are seldom mentioned in these parts now. Instead, Iowa and Wisconsin are getting a lot of attention from the leading players.
Ohio State is in on most of the big-name prospects. Purdue and Michigan are all over Florida. Look for Illinois to renew its ties in Florida when coach Ron Zook's newly hired assistants from Louisville make their presence felt. They have more ties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana but they did a great job in Florida, too.
Cyrus Kouandjio of Hyattsville, Md., could become the second offensive lineman in a row--and the first since Bill Fralic in 1980--to become Player of the Year. The 6-7, 320-pounder looks like an NFL player. He will be the most recruited offensive lineman in the country, as Seantrel Henderson of St. Paul, Minn., was this past season.
Another outstanding offensive lineman is 6-7, 310-pound Brandon Shell of Charleston, S.C., nephew of NFL Hall of Famer Art Shell.
Jadeveon Clowney of Rock Hill, S.C., a 6-6, 250-pound defensive end, is one of the best defensive lineman I have seen.
Two standouts in Washington, D.C., are 6-7, 280-pound offensive lineman Jamar Lewter and 6-3, 290-pound defensive tackle Kevin McReynolds, who has 20 offers and already has agreed to play in the UnderArmour all-star game.
Notre Dame is among 15 schools to offer 6-5, 240-pound defensive end Vincent Croce of Olney, Md.
Dominique Terrell of Manassas, Va., a 5-10, 170-pound defensive back, has 25 offers. He played quarterback last season but is being recruited as a defensive back and kick returner.
Jay Whitmire, a 6-5, 270-pound offensive lineman from Alexandria, Va., has 30 offers.
Darius Jennings, the second best prospect in Maryland, is a 5-11, 180-pounder from Baltimore. He has 20 offers. He plays quarterback in high school but is being recruited as a slot receiver and cornerback. He rushed for 2,000 yards last season.
Donovan Smith, a 6-5, 280-pound offensive lineman from Owings Mills, Md., has 10 offers.
Ronnie Van Dyke, a 6-3, 200-pound athlete from Lorton, Va., missed his junior year with an injury. But he has 10 offers based solely on his potential.
Now it's on to Washington, D.C. I'm staying at the historic Willard Hotel near the White House. I'm looking forward to walking the Mall and visiting the Capitol, the White House, the Smithsonian, Ford's Theater, Library of Congress and the Lincoln, Jefferson and Washington monuments. All in two days. I never had time for all of this before.