Rainey cleared, Easterling charges could be dropped

Originally Published: January 19, 2007
By Henry Gola | Scouts Inc.

Two ongoing stories involving top Florida running backs were resolved this week.

First, the Florida High School Athletic Association cleared Lakeland High School star Chris Rainey of any wrongdoing. Rainey had told the Miami Herald he had received cash and gifts for being a member of the football team but later rescinded the statements.

Chris Rainey
Alissa Hollimon/ESPN.comNow cleared by the FHSAA, Rainey will look to make a freshman impact at Florida.
"The original statement made by the student-athlete would cause anyone to suspect that he violated the amateur rule," FHSAA Commissioner John Stewart said in a statement. "But once he recanted that statement, we could no longer take action based on that statement alone. We had to investigate the potential violation, as we would any other allegation, to see if a violation in fact did occur."

The ruling also allows Lakeland to keep the 5A state title it won over St. Thomas Aquinas, 45-42.

In other news, Friday's Miami Herald reports that charges against Miami-Northwestern star running back Antwain Easterling of lewd and lascivious battery on a minor will be dropped if he completes a special program for youthful offenders.

Easterling, 19, already has enrolled in the program. Miami police arrested him in December, and he admitted to having sex with a 14-year old girl in a school bathroom after a game on Sept. 16.

Upon completion of the program, the conviction will not appear on his record.

Easterling remains uncommitted and reportedly will choose between North Carolina and Rutgers.

Boston College keeps quiet

Ever wonder how Boston College stays competitive every year without making much noise in recruiting? This week provided an example.

Though the Eagles lost No. 54 OG Arthur Ray Jr. (Chicago/Mount Carmel), a Tom O'Brien commit, to Michigan State, they promptly picked up commitments from two other top offensive line prospects. No. 15 OT John Elliott (East Meadow, N.Y.) and No. 30 OG Mark Spinney (Nashua, N.H./Bishop Guertin), who de-committed from Syracuse, will be the next in a long line of productive, under-the-radar BC offensive linemen.

De-commitments aplenty

James Wilson
Maxpreps/Gray QuettiJames Wilson decided to join former high school teammate Tim Tebow at Florida instead of heading to USC.
Southern California, still reeling from the cancellation of "The O.C.," received more bad news when top OG James Wilson (St. Augustine, Fla./Nease) went back on his commitment to USC and announced for Florida. Recruited by Western superpower USC, Midwestern superpower Notre Dame and Southern superpower Florida, Wilson ultimately opted for the allure of staying close to home.

And Michigan took two blows this week. ESPN 150 S Jerimy Finch (Indianapolis/Warren Central) de-committed from Big Blue and instead chose in-state Indiana after a visit there. Later in the week, WR/ATH Marquis Maze (Tarrant, Ala.) announced he was de-committing. He'll choose now between Alabama and Tennessee, with Nick Saban's hiring a big reason the Tide has entered the mix.

Speaking of Saban, he reeled in his first big in-state catch this week when ESPN 150 DT Kerry Murphy (Hoover, Ala.) chose Alabama over Auburn and Miami. However, Murphy may not be on campus next year; Hoover head coach Rush Propst told the Birmingham News "it will take a lot of work" to get him academically eligible.

Etc.

• Central Florida and SMU made big splashes this week, becoming the first non-BCS schools to land ESPN 150 prospects this year.

WR Kamar Aiken (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade), ranked No. 109 overall, was one of three prospects to choose Central Florida this week, and CB Derrius Bell, ranked No. 142 overall, was one of two prospects to choose SMU.

• RB LeSean McCoy (Harrisburg, Pa./Milford Academy), who apparently has his academics in order after attending postgraduate Milford Academy, announced a verbal commitment to Pitt after being wowed on a recent official visit. The No. 8 running back in the Class of '06, he should be an immediate impact player. McCoy had verbally committed to Miami (Fla.) out of high school.

Henry Gola is the recruiting editor for ESPN.com

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