Commentary

Boyd, Nixon among undecided prospects in solid N.C. class

Originally Published: September 24, 2008
By Craig Haubert | Scouts Inc.

The Carolinas are developing into states filled with excellent football talent. South Carolina has been very impressive with its ability to turn out top-level recruits, and its neighbor to the north is not too far behind. North Carolina has produced at least three ESPNU 150 recruits every year since 2006 with the inception of the rankings.

The Tar Heel State's 2009 class may be one of its weaker classes for elite talent, but it is full of good players and sleepers. Top prospect Jheranie Boyd (Gastonia, N.C./Ashbrook), offensive tackle Xavier Nixon (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt), future UNC defensive end Donte Moss (Jacksonville, N.C./Northside) and future Penn State center Ty Howle (Bunn, N.C.) are among the 11 ranking in the top 20 of their respective positions nationwide.

Top recruit

[+] EnlargeJheranie Boyd
Gator Country/Tim Casey Jheranie Boyd ranks as the No. 5 wide receiver in the 2009 class.
Jheranie Boyd, wide receiver
Ashbrook HS (Gastonia, N.C.)
Considering: Florida, Clemson, NC State, North Carolina, Auburn, Missouri, Oregon

One of the top wide receivers in the nation, Boyd has received interest nationwide. He combines good size, excellent speed and game-breaking ability. We had a chance to see him last summer at Florida's Friday Night Lights camp and he impressed us. He was arguably the best receiver there, continually displaying good hands and a penchant for playmaking.

For a high school prospect, he runs sound routes and shows a good feel for the position. He seems to work hard at the game and not rely solely on his natural skills.

His tools have garnered him a lot of interest; he remains one of the top uncommitted offensive players. Florida and Clemson are two programs that seem to have worked their way toward the top of his list, but programs like Missouri, Oregon and Auburn are not going down without a fight.

Under the radar recruit

Curtis Porter, defensive tackle
Victory Christian HS (Charlotte, N.C.)
Verbal Commitment: Miami

North Carolina had several candidates for the under-the-radar moniker such as tight end Tucker Windle (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Catholic), athlete Michael Dobson (Mount Airy, N.C.), and defensive end Matt Milner (Raleigh, N.C./Cardinal Gibbons), but in the end Porter won out.

Why? Porter possibly flew under the radar because he has not played his projected position much in high school. He spent his first three years of high school at West Charlotte where he saw limited action at defensive tackle and mainly played guard. He is, by the way, a solid guard prospect who can create running lanes and level defenders at times. Programs recruited him for defense, but film there was limited; he was mainly used in goal line situations and was just told to push blockers back.

Before his senior year, he transferred to Victory Christian and is now playing regularly on defense and showcasing his ability. He says he now has a little more mobility at the position and can throw a swim move and go after the quarterback. He also feels he has adapted to playing the run and feels most comfortable bull-rushing but still knows he needs improvement. "I need to work on staying low and improving my pass rushing skills," Porter said.

The Miami commit could really develop into a fine player at the position as he gets more experience. He reminds us in some ways of Omar Hunter, the No. 2 defensive tackle from the 2008 class, with his stout, tank-like build and power. Speaking of power, Porter's makes him dangerous during the game and after -- this young man has a pair of massive hands and one of the most crushing handshakes I have ever experienced.

Keep an eye on him as he has the raw skills to develop into one of the better defensive tackles from this class.

On the Trail

North Carolina, 13 commits (Sept. 24)
People are watching the Tar Heels to see if Butch Davis can get the program winning. Despite a sound 2-1 start, he still is working to add talent and build the program; they currently have 13 commitments with seven from in-state.

UNC currently has two ESPNU 150 prospects in quarterback Bryn Renner (Lorton, Va. / West Springfield) and defensive end Donte Moss (Jacksonville, N.C. / Northside). It kept a good defensive tackle prospect from its backyard in Jared McAdoo (Chapel Hill, N.C.). And while most of the class is made up of prospects from the Mid-Atlantic states, it landed a top-40 receiver prospect from the Northeast in Joshua Adams (Cheshire, Conn./Cheshire Academy).

N.C. State, 9 commits (Sept. 24)
Tom O'Brien headed to more fertile recruiting grounds when he left Boston College for N.C. State. Still working to build the program, he has yet to land an ESPNU 150 prospect in his 2009 class after signing two in his 2008 class.

He does have five prospects ranking among the top 50 at their positions, including No. 30 outside linebacker Ricky Dowdy (High Point, N.C./Central). At the top of the class is athlete Everett Proctor (Fayetteville, NC / Jack Britt), a high school quarterback who could project to that position but also displays the skills to play wide receiver or safety in college.

Wake Forest, 16 commits (Sept. 24)
The best program in the state right now makes the least noise of the BCS schools on the recruiting trail. Jim Grobe currently has no ESPNU 150 recruits in his class of 16 and has not landed one since the 2006 class, but he and his staff have proved they can spot good players and get them coached up when they get on campus.

At the top of the 2009 class is defensive tackle Frank Souza out of Nease High School in Florida, a school the Demon Deacons have had good success recruiting recently. Souza fits the Wake Forest mold; he may not be the best or most athletic recruit at his position, but the Florida native plays hard and smart and can be productive between the white lines.

Souza is one of six Sunshine State commitments for Wake; it also has had some success in-state by landing top-10 center prospect Whit Barnes (Rocky Mount, N.C.).

Duke, 23 commits (Sept. 24)
There is a new sheriff at Duke and he has added a little life to its football recruiting. David Cutcliffe has put together a solid class thus far with four prospects ranking among the top 35 at their positions. No. 22-rated running back Desmond Scott (Durham, N.C./Hillside), a shifty, multipurpose type back, leads the way after decommitting from Rutgers. In fact, three of Duke's top four recruits were at one time committed to other programs.

The well regarded quarterback mentor also has a commitment from a solid pupil to tutor in Sean Schroeder (Dana Point, Calif. / Dana Hills), the nation's No. 31 quarterback impressively landed from the West Coast. Duke also has shown some persuasion skills with Cutcliffe at the helm as three of their top four recruits were committed to other programs at one time.

East Carolina, 16 commits (Sept. 24)
The Pirates made some noise early in the 2008 season and are trying to turn it into wins on the recruiting trail. Twelve of its 16 commits come from in-state. At the top is athlete Michael Dobson, an unheralded prospect who could make a fine running back or safety at East Carolina.

The Pirates also recently landed an under-the-radar prospect in Matt Milner, a high-motor kid who could help them at defensive end or tight end.

ESPNRISE.com North Carolina Game of the Week

Broughton-Raleigh (4-1) at Millbrook-Raleigh (5-0), Friday, 7 p.m. ET:
Broughton opens the Cap 7 at Millbrook, which is tied for the league lead with Leesville Road-Raleigh.

The Capitals, which have plenty of experience on both sides of the ball, split their opening two games before winning three straight. Last week, the Capitals drilled Athens Drive-Raleigh 54-18 as running back Emery Young ran for 102 yards and three TDs, pushing his season totals to 491 yards and nine scores.

Millbrook, the top-ranked team in the state's Triad Region, has outscored opponents 221-40. In a 35-7 victory over Apex, Kuwon Eldridge rumbled for scores of 23, 70 and 75 yards en route to a 199-yard rushing effort. Eldridge has 14 TDs this season. -- Christopher Lawlor

Craig Haubert is recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. Drop Craig a line in his mailbag.