WIR: Carolina on my mind

Originally Published: September 29, 2006
By Henry Gola | Scouts Inc.

Carolina girls, as a famous Chairman of the Board song says, are the best in the world. Unfortunately, Carolina's two most prominent Division I football programs aren't even the best in the state.

At both North Carolina and N.C. State , the head coaches are feeling the heat. Wolfpack coach Chuck Amato has been the brunt of two biting, though funny, cartoons on the Raleigh News & Observer web site. The Charlotte Observer in consecutive weeks has asked for his and Tar Heel coach John Bunting's heads.

While this year for UNC has been miserable, the Tar Heels' only win coming in a 45-42 squeaker over D-IAA Furman, the future looks surprisingly bright.

ESPN 150 quarterback Mike Paulus (Syracuse, N.Y./Christian Brothers) is a solid verbal commitment, and he probably won't be swayed to look elsewhere with brother Greg literally down the road, playing point guard at Duke.

Chuck Amato
Scott Bales/Icon SMIVerbal commitments from undecided, ESPN 150 in-state recruits, along with a continued winning streak, might help save Chuck Amato's job.
Bunting also is playing his young guys. Freshman wide receiver Hakeem Nicks is second on the team in receptions (15) and third in receiving yards (175). With senior Jesse Holley on the way out, ESPN 150 wide receiver Dwight Jones (Burlington, N.C./Cummings) has to feel pretty good about his chances to see the field right away.

The big question, though, is what recruits are coming in to help a defense that has given up 150 points in four games? Three in-state, undecided ESPN 150 defensive recruits -- defensive tackle Tydreke Powell (Ahoskie, N.C./Hertford County), safety Chris Culliver (Garner, N.C.) and safety Quantavius Sturdivant (Oakboro, N.C./West Stanly) -- would be big gets for the Tar Heels.

Powell and Culliver also are considering N.C. State, which so far hasn't snagged any ESPN 150 recruits. The good news is that 11 of the Wolfpack's 13 verbal commits are from in-state. The best of the bunch is probably defensive end Linwan Euwell (Pinetops, N.C./Southwest Edgecombe), a non-stop whirlwind who just needs to harness his skills some.

Amato needs more ACC wins like he got last week against Boston College, and Bunting needs his team to show a lot more life than it did in a 52-7 drubbing at Clemson. If either coach does get fired, it will be interesting to see if the recruiting classes they've put together so far will stick around.

Tight ends on the go

ESPN 150 tight end Christian Ballard (Lawrence, Kan./Free State) spurned his verbal commitment to in-state Kansas and has now given a verbal commitment to Iowa.

ESPN 150 tight end Aaron Hernandez (Bristol, Conn./Central) pulled a similar move earlier this year when he backed out of a verbal commitment to UConn in favor of Florida.

Though both Kansas and UConn have to feel slighted, they were going to be hard-pressed to keep those players on board until February after both became national recruits.

Arkansas on the right track

David Williams' (Little Rock, Ark./Central Arkansas Christian) verbal commitment is big for Arkansas not only because he's the No. 9 tight end in the country, but also because he's excited about it.

"I want to just say to Lee Ziemba and Kodi Burns and even Broderick Green -- who can still change his mind -- that they need to come get on board at Arkansas, too," Williams told the Springdale Morning News. "We all need to go to the same college so we can have a good team. So you know what to do, go ahead and do it."

Ziemba, Burns and Green (a current USC verbal) are among the top prospects in Arkansas in the Class of '07, and if the Razorbacks can pull a move similar to last year's, when new offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn signed top in-state recruits Mitch Mustain, Damian Williams and Ben Cleveland, Arkansas will have a strong foundation of young players.

Henry Gola is the recruiting editor for ESPN.com

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