NCF Nation: John Buntin
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
There is enough drama in college football recruiting for its own reality TV show (please, no), but I pulled five particular ACC recruiting memories that stand out over the past five years.
Two you might be wondering about after reading this are A.J. Davis' switch from UNC to NC State after Chuck Amato's Dean Martin serenade, and Miami's infamous recruit, Willie Williams. Well, the Davis thing was in 2002, and the Williams circus happened in February, 2004, so technically, Miami wasn't yet a part of the ACC.
Here are five others I came up with, in no particular order:
Logan-El's hat trick -- Maryland native Antonio Logan-El wore a Maryland-red tie under his black suit, and made his college announcement in the Baltimore ESPN Zone on national TV in front of dozens of Maryland fans, including coach Ralph Friedgen's wife, Gloria. And then, in dramatic fashion, Maryland's top-rated offensive lineman picked Penn State. Logan-El first reached into a bag and pulled out a baseball cap from the University of Florida and tossed it on the floor. Maryland fans roared. Then he did the same thing with a Tennessee cap. Another roar of approval from the Terps fans. Then he got to the Maryland cap, the program which he had verbally committed to before his sophomore year in high school. And he threw it on the ground, too. All this while Gloria Friedgen held her cell phone up to a speaker for her husband to hear. There was stunned silence, followed by a voice in the back of the room that yelled "TRAI-TOR!" By then, Gloria Friedgen had already grabbed her coat and left.
Little's big decision -- Regarded as one of the top high school athletes in the country, Greg Little of Durham, N.C., held a press conference to reveal his choice between North Carolina and Notre Dame early in the 2006 season. At the last minute, he announced he could not make a decision and canceled the press conference. A few weeks later, former coach John Bunting was fired and Little had another press conference where he announced he would attend Notre Dame. A few weeks later, Carolina played at Notre Dame and on the Friday evening prior to the game, rumors circulated that North Carolina would hire Butch Davis as its next head coach. With Little in attendance as a Notre Dame pledge, the Irish defeated North Carolina. Little continued to show up at many men's and women's basketball games in Chapel Hill in December and January and asked to continue to be recruited by Davis. Little called Davis on the night before signing day and inked with the Tar Heels the following day.
Gator tears -- Everyone but C.J. Spiller seemed to think the star running back was going to play for the Florida Gators, which was just about 25 miles from where he grew up. Spiller's mom, Patricia Watkins, certainly thought so. On the morning of Spiller's press conference at Union County High School, his mom broke into tears when Spiller announced he would sign with Clemson.
"Before we got here, he told me that it wasn't going to be Florida State, so I knew Florida State was out of it," Watkins told Scout.com at the time. "I knew it was Florida and Clemson, and in my heart, I really felt that it was going to be Florida, so it was a big shock to me."
Sign what paper? -- Alphonso Smith had it down to three schools -- Pitt, Iowa and Wake Forest. He was committed to Pitt for over a year, but left the door open and visited Wake Forest. On signing day, Smith's two best friends on the football team -- D.J. Boldin and Antonio Wilson -- were pleading with him to come to Wake, and Smith couldn't make up his mind. His mom came to the signing day press conference at Pahokee High and handed Smith about 20 handwritten notes from Wake Forest coaches and advised him to play with his friends. Smith pushed the Pitt paperwork aside and was ready to sign with Wake Forest, but realized he had left the papers at the house. His mom had seen them lying on the kitchen table and stuck them in her purse. Smith's commitment was a key shaping the future of Wake Forest recruiting.
Miami's No. 1 -- at least in recruiting -- Coach Randy Shannon's first full recruiting class in 2008 was considered the best in the nation by ESPN's Scouts Inc., and in 2008 many of them lived up to the billing. The 2008 class included 12 prospects from the ESPNU 150, and some -- like Marcus Forston, Jacory Harris, Sean Spence, and Aldarius Johnson -- played integral roles as true freshman last season. Shannon brought in top-tier defensive talent and kept a lot of the most highly regarded prospects from South Florida at home, despite a 5-7 record in 2007. At the time, our experts wrote: "This top-five class may give Miami the foundation necessary to make a run for a national title."