- Jc Shurburtt
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Under Armour All-American safety Nick Dew (Virginia Beach, Va./Colonial) has Virginia Tech firmly in the lead for his services and could commit as early as this weekend's unofficial visit to Blacksburg.
"They offered first, and right now, they are my No. 1," Dew said. "I enjoy the campus, and right now, I like them so much, I am going to go up there this weekend just to hang out with the coaches."
Under coach Frank Beamer, the Hokies have a long-standing tradition of recruiting well in the Tidewater area of Virginia.
"There are Virginia Tech fans everywhere here," Dew said. "Everywhere you go, there are posters and T-shirts. Players that have gone there from here have had great success. The kids trust the coaches there."
During a recent unofficial visit, Dew got the chance to meet Beamer.
"He's the coolest head coach I have met so far," Dew said. "He's laid-back, but he's strictly business at the same time. He wants to win and he trusts his players. He only recruits the best."
As for a possible commitment this weekend, Dew did not rule it out.
"I told the coaches up there that I am bringing my parents with me this weekend and that it's going to be up to them if I go ahead and commit or if I wait," he said. "If I wait, I may make plans to do it at the Under Armour All-America Game."
If Dew is not a Hokie by this weekend, he plans to camp at North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and perhaps West Virginia this summer.
Here are the top five recruiting jobs in the country.
The Trojans tend to have their pick of the top talent in California, which produces more NFL players than any other state. They also have a coast-to-coast reach. An offer from USC, no matter where you are from, is a sign of prestige to today's recruits. Also, with no professional football in Los Angeles, the Trojans are the team in a celebrity-packed city.
The Longhorns are the dominant recruiting team in Texas, which is No. 3 in producing NFL players. Tremendous facilities and a rich football tradition, plus a recent national championship, make the Longhorns job better than it has ever been. That's saying something, because it's always been excellent.
In addition to being in Florida -- the No. 2 state in producing NFL players -- the Gators are in the nation's toughest conference. And their success -- two national championships in three seasons -- has made them the top program in the Sunshine State. On top of that, there are major facilities upgrades and one of the loudest home environments in all of college football.
Like the Gators, the Bayou Bengals have a special home environment and one of the top talent-producing states in America (No. 6 in NFL players) all to themselves. They can select the top players in Louisiana and are extremely competitive in Texas; they are the only school in the SEC besides former Southwest Conference member Arkansas that can really recruit in the Lone Star State and throughout the Southeast.
The Buckeyes basically get who they want from Ohio, and Ohio is one of the top talent-producing states in America (No. 4 in NFL players). Competing for the national championship multiple times this decade also has improved the program's reach, as it's not unusual to see OSU in the mix for the country's top prospects.
The hot sell
Here come the Cougars! It's been a red-hot summer for BYU, scoring quarterback Jake Heaps (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline), wide receiver Ross Apo (Arlington, Texas/The Oakridge School) and linebacker Zac Stout (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) during a 48-hour period June 3 and 4. Heaps is an ESPNU150 Watch List prospect, while Stout and Apo, with overall grades of 78 from Scouts Inc., are both highly regarded as well. Throw those in with a previously received soft commit from Under Armour All-American Bronson Kaufusi (Provo, Utah/Timpview), and the Cougars have the makings of an excellent class.
Washington: Under Armour All-American quarterback Nick Montana (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) gives the Huskies the centerpiece for what is shaping up to be an outstanding class. In addition to Montana, Washington has four other ESPNU150 Watch List prospects committed already.
Recruiter to watch
Kirby Smart, Alabama
One of the top young assistants in college football, the former All-SEC defensive back from Georgia also worked with Tide coach Nick Saban at LSU and with the Miami Dolphins. He is a relentless recruiter and has landed Alabama's past three commits, including Under Armour All-Americans CB Demarcus Milliner (Millbrook, Ala./Stanhope Elmore) and OT JaWuan James (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett), along with in-state defensive end Craig Sanders (Ariton, Ala./Ariton). James cited his relationship with Smart and the other Tide coaches as a major reason he decided to commit to Alabama this early in the process over offers from most of the major schools in the country.
Also worth watching
Cale Gundy, Oklahoma
Year in and year out, the former Sooners quarterback is one of the best recruiters on Bob Stoops' staff, and he recently led the charge as the Sooners picked up the surprising commitment of running back Brennan Clay (San Diego, Calif./Scripps Ranch).
Making a list, checking it twice
Under Armour All-American wide receiver Kadron Boone (Ocala, Fla./Trinity Catholic) continues to maintain a wide-open approach when it comes to his recruitment but says he plans to narrow his list of choices in the near future.
"I want to make sure that I do my homework on all of these schools and that I don't leave any of these schools out," Boone said. "I don't want to overlook anything."
The 6-foot, 187-pounder said he plans to attend only Florida's camp this summer. "Other than that, I am busy narrowing down this list," he said.
Texas Tech is another school that should make the short list. The Red Raiders' offense is very attractive to him.
"I most likely will take a visit to Texas Tech," he said. "I've talked to my recruiter [Lincoln Riley] and to [Red Raiders coach] Mike Leach, and they tell me good things."
Notre Dame, Clemson, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Miami, Georgia, Michigan and Ohio State are some of the other programs Boone mentioned in connection with his recruitment.
Lewis gets a feel for LSU
Under Armour All-American linebacker Shaun Lewis (Missouri City, Texas/Hightower) was at LSU's prospect camp this week.
"Things are going well down here," he said. "There is a lot of competition. I'm just getting a feel for everything down here and seeing if I can imagine myself playing here."
The Tigers, along with Oregon, Alabama, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, Florida, UCLA, Nebraska, Miami and others have offered Lewis. He says he might visit College Station later this summer and says he does not plan to make a commitment any time soon.
Noles in on Payne
Florida State has offered cornerback Keion Payne (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Saint Thomas Aquinas). This is significant, because should the Noles land Payne (and they have an excellent shot to do so), it would only strengthen their lead for Under Armour All-American Lamarcus Joyner, who also plays for Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Quarterback Barry Brunetti (Memphis, Tenn./Memphis University School) plans to camp at West Virginia and Penn State this summer. ... The word is that defensive lineman Richard Ash (Pahokee, Fla./Pahokee) has decided to commit to Florida, but will not do so until September. ... Class of 2011 cornerback Nick Waisome (Groveland, Fla./South Lake) has picked up verbal scholarship offers from Miami and Florida State. He could be one of the top corners in the Southeast during the next recruiting cycle. ... Keep an eye out for athlete Jeremy Word (Itawamba, Miss./Itawamba Junior College). There is a buzz about the 6-foot, 190-pound playmaker. ... Class of 2011 defensive tackle Jalen Grimble (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman) recently picked up a verbal offer from UCLA.
JC Shurburtt covers recruiting for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.