ACC: Tennessee Volunteers

The Early Offer is a RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Dylan Moses' commitment to LSU sent shockwaves throughout the college football recruiting world; you have to tip your hat to Mark Stoops and Kentucky once again for another creative recruiting mailer; and Oregon, Miami, South Carolina and Tennessee are battling down the stretch for a four-star WR.

The story of Moses
Dylan Moses (Baton Rouge, La./University Lab) deciding to end his recruitment before he even was halfway through his freshman year of high school football sent a tidal wave of response throughout the college football world late Sunday and throughout the day on Monday. As expected the news was well received by LSU fans, but fans in general and even several college coaches were highly critical the Tigers’ decision to accept the commitment. “I can’t be critical of the kid himself, because he’s jumping on an opportunity placed in front of him,” one ACC recruiting coordinator said. “But schools offering a scholarship to a 14-year-old and then actually accepting it is everything that’s wrong with recruiting today. It’s hard enough to project the future of seniors accurately, but it’s impossible to do it with freshmen.” My colleague Tom Luginbill was right on the money when he said it’s a high risk, high reward scheme for coaches. The more it happens the more we’re going to see calls for even more regulation from the NCAA, because there’s just too much gray area for coaches to maneuver in.

The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Tennessee having tremendous success in the junior college ranks is a good thing for the Volunteers, Michigan's attempt to crack Ohio State’s Glenville pipeline, and why Florida State landing a player in Maryland is bad news for the rest of the ACC.

Tennessee rebuilds with juco players


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Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins was voted ACC Preseason Player of the Year.

He has played in two games this season.

NC State cornerback David Amerson was the best defensive player returning to the ACC.

He has struggled repeatedly in the two biggest games the Wolfpack have played this season.

[+] EnlargeDavid Amerson
AP Photo/John Amis"Film doesn't lie," NC State coach Tom O'Brien said of David Amerson. "He's not reading the fundamentals."
Not exactly the start anybody envisioned for two All-Americans. So what gives?

Different reasons for each player. Watkins was suspended for the first two games of the year following an offseason arrest. He returned against Furman and worked his way back into the offense, showing off his supreme talent with a 58-yard touchdown run, and added four catches for 52 yards.

Though he did throw a touchdown pass against the Seminoles, Watkins was essentially shut down in the pass game -- with six catches for 24 yards. Then last week, he sat out against Boston College because of an abdominal virus. Watkins is expected back against Georgia Tech this Saturday, but as of right now, teammate DeAndre Hopkins has eclipsed Watkins as the man in the Clemson receiving group.

Hard to believe that Watkins only has 10 catches for 76 yards, along with 95 yards rushing and a touchdown after his breakout season a year ago, when he had 1,450 rusing/receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. His circumstances are somewhat understandable.

Not so for Amerson. After leading the nation with 13 interceptions last year, he was my choice as the player to watch in the ACC heading into the season. Well, he has been the player to watch for all the wrong reasons.

Amerson was torched in the opener against Tennessee, giving up touchdown passes of 41 and 72 yards. That is when alarm bells started ringing. Though he rebounded in the next three games and tied the NC State school record against The Citadel with his 16th career interception, he was burned again repeatedly against Miami.

He gave up both long touchdown passes -- a 76-yarder to Rashawn Scott in the first quarter -- and the 62-yard game-winner to Phillip Dorsett with 19 seconds remaining. Amerson has looked nothing like the player who turned heads a year ago.

"I think he’s gotten away a lot from fundamentals," NC State coach Tom O'Brien said during his weekly press conference. "He’s been stressed the last couple of weeks, but if it doesn’t hit home after last Saturday, it ain’t gonna hit home.”

Another huge challenge awaits Saturday against Florida State, a team that has playmakers all over the field. O'Brien said he would work with Amerson some more this week to help him get back to form.

"Film doesn’t lie," O'Brien said. "He’s not reading the fundamentals. He’s trying to make every play instead of doing his job. That’s what you’ve gotta do. You have to do your job. If he does his job and a ton of other guys do their jobs, then we win the football game.”

David Amerson gets redemption chance

September, 6, 2012
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There is no denying it: NC State cornerback David Amerson had a bad opening night against Tennessee.

He was not even close to resembling the player we saw a year ago, when he set an ACC record with 13 interceptions. First, there was the 41-yard touchdown pass to Cordarrelle Patterson. Then there was the 72-yard touchdown pass to Zach Rogers. Tennessee ended up passing for 333 yards, and questions about Amerson started popping up.

[+] EnlargeDavid Amerson
AP Photo/John AmisStar NC State CB David Amerson is looking to bounce back after giving up several big plays against Tennessee.
To his credit, Amerson took full responsibility for his performance, telling local reporters, "It’s not acceptable,” he said. “I don’t think I did enough to help my team win."

Coach Tom O'Brien was asked this week how much Amerson was to blame for the long scores.

"Well, I don't know if it was an Amerson problem or the fact that Tennessee's pretty dang good. Their skill level is high," O'Brien said on the ACC coaches call.

Amerson gets his chance for redemption this Saturday against UConn in what is shaping up to be another tough nonconference challenge. But there is a little bit of good news if you are a Wolfpack fan. UConn simply does not have the talent Tennessee does at the skill positions.

The Huskies have a junior college transfer at quarterback in Chandler Whitmer, who made his first career start for UConn last week in a win over UMass. He had good moments, and bad moments but he is not in the same category as Tyler Bray. Secondly, UConn has a pretty unproven set of receivers who do not have nearly the same size as the guys at Tennessee. Patterson is 6-foot-3, 205 pounds; Justin Hunter is 6-4, 200 pounds and Marlin Lane is 6-feet, 205.

For UConn, its top four options at receiver had a combined 17 catches a season ago. The Huskies feature Geremy Davis (6-1, 214), who had a nice game last week with five receptions for 79 yards; Nick Williams (5-10, 184); Michael Smith (6-feet, 201); and Shakim Phillips (6-1, 200). A bigger concern for NC State could be tight end, where UConn has two excellent options in Ryan Griffin and John Delahunt.

UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni had high praise for Amerson on the Big East coaches call, saying the cornerback has the "best plant and drive that I’ve seen in quite a while. He can really drive on the ball, gets his hands on the ball. He’s an outstanding player. Tennessee has some speed and outstanding receivers but we have a lot of respect for him."

Now Amerson gets his chance to prove last week was merely a fluke, because UConn may very well test him early.

"One of the great things about it is if you are a great player, especially as a quarterback or if you are as a corner, you're going to get beat," O'Brien said. "But you have to have amnesia and forget about it and come back and play from that point on. So it's a good lesson for him to learn, and we'll see how he reacts Saturday."

ACC's lunchtime links

September, 5, 2012
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Who you got, Cowboys or Giants?

A flurry of explosive offensive plays in the first half and a defense that intercepted North Carolina State quarterback Mike Glennon four times steered Tennessee to a season-opening 35-21 victory on Friday in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome.

The Vols’ pass defense looked shaky early, but they regrouped and held the Wolfpack to just one touchdown in the second. Glennon was repeatedly harassed by Tennessee’s pressure, and Prentiss Waggner, Byron Moore, Eric Gordon and Marsalis Teague all had interceptions for the Vols.

Tennessee rolled up 528 yards of total offense and won the battle up front most of the night.

It was over when: Tennessee held North Carolina State on fourth-and-9 with a little more than five minutes to play. Glennon’s pass sailed incomplete. The Vols took over at the Wolfpack 39 and moved into position for Michael Palardy's 35-yard field goal to build a two-touchdown lead with fewer than two minutes to play.

Game ball goes to: Cordarrelle Patterson showed off in his debut for the Vols. The junior college newcomer caught a 41-yard touchdown pass and also ran for a 67-yard touchdown on a reverse where he made a wicked cut across the field and then out-ran everybody, including North Carolina State All-America cornerback David Amerson, to the end zone.

Stat of the game: The Vols just missed 200 yards rushing and averaged 5.1 yards per carry after finishing 116th nationally out of 120 teams in rushing offense last season.

Star watch: Amerson, who had 13 interceptions last season for the Wolfpack, had a forgettable outing. He was beaten twice on long touchdown passes by Patterson and Zach Rogers and also couldn’t catch Patterson on his long touchdown run.

What it means for Tennessee: The Vols absolutely had to have this game, especially with Florida coming to Knoxville in two weeks. Neyland Stadium is sure to be rocking for the Gators’ visit, and this appears to be a Tennessee team that could make some noise in the East race this season.

What it means for North Carolina State: The Wolfpack have to get better up front offensively, and Glennon needs to get over this one in a hurry. After a good start, he appeared to lose his poise after making some poor throws on interceptions. The Wolfpack were forced to throw it 48 times. They’ve got to find some better balance on offense.

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