- Jamie Newberg, RecruitingNation
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It was a pleasant surprise for ESPNU 150 athlete Nelson Agholor (Tampa/Berkley Prep).
Angel Jean-Louis (Wellington, Fla./Palm Beach Central) was a no-show to the Gridiron Kings and officials for the event asked Agholor if he would like to take his place on the Southeast team.
"Are you kidding?" Agholor said. "Of course I would. Who wouldn't? This is so exciting and I am playing with some good friends. This is just another great opportunity for me."
Agholor is one of the top prospects in the country. A two-way star for his high school team, Agholor is the No. 7 athlete in the country and No. 42 prospect overall. Through the recruiting process, he has made many friends along the way.
"That's the best part of all of this," Agholor said. "I am definitely a football player and I am having fun. But this is all about the relationships and the people that you meet. To have a chance and go to a place like Oregon [The Opening] and to come here is such a great thing for all of us. I am just having a great time with all of this."
When it comes to recruiting Agholor doesn't say much. He doesn't grant many interviews and when he does he plays things close to the vest. For him, recruiting can wait.
"I need to let recruiting die," Agholor said. "It's time to start really focusing on the game of football. I would rather talk recruiting with a bunch of kids than a bunch of adults."
Agholor has been offered scholarships by teams from coast to coast. In fact, he could almost name his school. His first offer was from USC and that was the one school he camped at this summer. Since that initial offer teams such as Florida, Georgia, Texas, Auburn, Alabama, FSU, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon and many others have offered him as well.
"Honestly, I am taking recruiting one day at a time," Agholor said. "I will sit down with my family and my coach and try and narrow things down. For now I will say that I am completely open to the process. The first thing I am looking at is the people. What kind of people do all these programs have? Well, they all have great people. I want to find a place where there is a real passion for the game and a program that will compete. They also have to have good morals. Some schools that I like -- Auburn, Texas, Florida, Georgia, USC -- all have those qualities.
"I am open with everyone."
LB with two favorites
Chris Santini (San Jose, Calif./Leland) is a linebacker prospect with two leaders at this time. But that could change early next week.
"Oregon State and Boise State are my top two teams right now," Santini said. "I have been to see both schools and I like them a lot. I am camping at Stanford on Monday and things look promising with them. They have not offered but they could. I don't want to jinx anything. But if Stanford were to offer that could change things and they would move up."
Santini, 6-1 and 215 pounds, has 10 offers.
This season he is changing positions. For the past two years he has played safety. But he has grown into a linebacker. He's getting some work at his new position at Gridiron Kings, where he has not had much time to adjust to his teammates on the West team.
"I think we are coming along," Santini said. "I think we have a bunch of smart players here and they seem to be picking things up pretty quickly. We just have to learn the calls, coverages and drops."
Santini is a three-star recruit.
Powe likes five
ESPNU 150 wide receiver Darius Powe (Lakewood, Calif./Lakewood) is down to a handful of schools. This 6-2, 190-pounder from Southern California pretty much knows at this time where he will make his official visits.
"Oregon State, Michigan, Utah, UCLA and Washington are the schools that I like," Powe said. "If I want, I'll add another team for an official visit and I will visit UCLA unofficially. Right now I am wide open."
Powe insists he's not close to a decision and it will likely come after his high school season.
"I would like to do it at the Under Armour game or maybe a little earlier," Powe said. "I will take my trips. There are no standouts right now and they are all even."
Powe is the No. 13 ranked receiver and the No. 85 overall recruit.
Darby says he'll be CB at ND
Notre Dame will get a serious dose of speed once Ronald Darby (Oxon Hill, Md./Potomac) arrives on campus. Considered one of the fastest players in the 2012 class, Darby has his sights set on South Bend.
"When I went up to Notre Dame I liked everything," Darby sad. "I love what [coach Brian] Kelly has in mind with the program. He signed an aggressive defensive line last year and a good secondary. I can fit in very well.
"Corner will be my primary position and I will play on special teams. I have speed and intelligence. I am a smart player and I know how to communicate. I'm a lockdown corner and you can't outrun me. If you can't outrun me you can't do anything else."
Darby, 5-11 and 176 pounds, is the reigning Maryland state champion in the 100 and 200 meters. Track is important to him, but he runs for one reason and one reason only: To help him in football.
"I want to run track in college just to keep my speed up," Darby said. "But I run track because of football and I don't want to run track after college."
There have been rumors that Darby has other schools of interest, but he insists he's rock solid with the Fighting Irish.
"I am solid with Notre Dame," Darby said. "I just like to go to other places and see how things are. I am 100 percent solid with Notre Dame."
Darby is the No. 10 ranked cornerback in the nation and No. 70 in the ESPNU 150.
Wilson seeking more offers
One of the most talented receivers on the Southeast team is Jaime Wilson (Belle Glade, Fla./Glades Central). Wilson, 5-11 and 185 pounds, is a big-play guy.
"I think my strengths as a player are my route running and my overall ability to get open," Wilson said. "I have good hands and I make plays when my team needs me."
According to Wilson he has one offer and it's from Marshall.
"Marshall has offered me," Wilson said. "I had a scholarship offer from Florida but that was from Urban Meyer's staff. So I don't now.
"Georgia has been talking to my coaches about me playing defensive back. Illinois has asked for my transcript, and Vandy seems to be showing me some interest."
Last season as a junior Wilson had 52 receptions for 781 yards and 15 touchdowns. He's a three-star recruit and the No. 86 ranked wide receiver prospect in the nation.
WR Woods names top group
Wide receiver Derrick Woods (Inglewood, Calif./Inglewood) is tired but ready to compete. He flew from Los Angeles to Orlando to compete in the Gridiron Kings and he's amped up about the weekend of competition.
"I slept the whole way because I was tired," Woods said. "We had a passing tournament yesterday. But I know this is another great opportunity for me so I want to take advantage of it."
Woods is terrific athlete. At 5-11 and 185 pounds, he stars on both sides of the ball.
"I am primarily being recruited as a receiver," Woods said. "I am a good receiver who can take the short routes and make a big play. I am very good in space."
Woods, the No. 17 ranked wideout in the country, says he has "no idea" on his number of scholarship offers. But he does have an idea of where he would like to visit and the schools that interest him at this time.
"My top schools right now are Alabama, USC, Florida and Washington," Woods said. "I don't know about the last one. I didn't visit any schools this summer but I plan on taking an official visit to Alabama for sure. I want to see what Washington and Oregon are like and I am hoping to see them play against each other this fall. Of course I will take an official visit to USC."
Woods says his family will play a big part in his decision and he knows they would like to see him play when he gets to college.
"I will probably base my decision on my family and how I get to see them," Woods said. "They will want to get to see me play. As far as coaches I would love to have a great relationship with them and I don't want to make decision and have the coaches leave. Playing time is not a factor because I know I will play wherever I go."
Being an L.A. guy Woods feels the pressure to stay home. In the end, though, he knows he has to make the right decision for him.
"There is pressure to stay at home at USC," Woods said. "I think about a lot. It's going to be a hard decision to make."
Elder will listen to, well, elders
Defensive back Chaz Elder (College Park, Ga./Banneker) is nearing a decision. Elder, 6-2 and 185 pounds, hopes to huddle up with his mom and his Banneker coaches and make his commitment next month.
"I haven't really sat down and talked with my mom yet," Elder said. "Hopefully sometime in August I can [decide] after talking with her and my coaches."
Elder is the No. 8 ranked safety in the country and he's down to three schools -- Georgia, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.
"South Carolina, if I do choose them, I hope the position coach will be there awhile," Elder said. "They are winning and I like the campus. Winning the East was big for me. They are winning, man.
"I have some family members that have gone to Georgia. They are the home school and I enjoy talking with Coach [Mark] Richt.
"Vandy has caught my attention. They are getting top recruits and I can help them change the program around."
Michigan sways Richardson
Growing up, Terry Richardson (Detroit/Cass Tech) never envisioned himself playing for the maize and blue of Michigan. He wanted to play for the Gators or Trojans. But that all changed pretty quickly for the nation's No. 4 cornerback prospect.
"My family was real comfortable with Michigan," Richardson said. "I felt real comfortable with the Michigan staff. At that time it was the best decision for me so I hopped on Michigan. Growing up I wanted to play for Florida or USC. I loved those schools. But then I fell in love with Michigan."
Richardson, 5-9 and 160 pounds, can't wait to see what Michigan football is like this fall. But he knows it will be a work in progress.
"I don't know what to say about my expectations this fall," Richardson said. "I really want to wait and see. I can't have great expectations for the team but I hope they do well and I hope they make a quick name for themselves so they have some hype when I get there. Remember, it's just a start."
Regardless of what happens on the field this season, Richardson knows exactly what he's bringing to Ann Arbor.
"I want to work hard and to keep working," Richardson said. "The things the Wolverines are getting in me are hard work on the field and in the classroom. I love to win. That's the main thing. They are going to get a winner."
Auburn home for Holsey
Joshua Holsey (Fairburn, Ga./Creekside) is a playmaking cornerback headed to the national champs. Holsey, 5-10 and 170 pounds, has 19 interceptions over the past three seasons.
"I loved everything about Auburn," Holsey said. "The coaching staff, the players and the facilities are terrific. Going there the first time it hits you and you feel like there is something about Auburn. I knew it was the right place for me."
Holsey is part of the Southeast team and it is the defending Girdiron King champ.
"It's an honor to be here and I am just happy to compete with the best talent in this class and represent the southeast," Holsey said. "There is a little pressure to play to the best of our ability and defend the title."
Moore wants more for UVA
He's a big-time recruit and Kwontie Moore (Norfolk, Va./Norfolk Academy Christian) is already committed to Virginia. Yet he' still amazed at the attention he receives, especially when it comes to the Gridiron Kings.
"I have never seen anything like this," Moore said. "To be treated like this, like I am actually good, it's so surprising. It's going to be a lot of fun. This is a fun place. We are trying to get to that championship. I am representing Virginia. I have to play well."
Moore, 6-1 and 232 pounds, committed to the Cavaliers in May. He says he can't believe the things Mike London has been able to do in Charlottesville.
"It's exciting to see UVA recruit well," Moore said. "They did so in 2011. Coach London just seems to recruit so well. I just want to go to a team that has one goal and that's winning. That's Coach London. I am a strong Christian and that's them, too."
J.C. Coleman (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Smith) is one of the most exciting running back prospects in the Class of 2012. And he's just as excited to be a part of the Virginia Tech recruiting class. Coleman even shaved VT into his hair and he loves his new hairdo.
"That was something I got done for The Opening a few weeks ago," Coleman said. "I have to represent my school. You see everyone wearing their colors and their hats. I had to take it to the next level."
You can tell how proud Coleman is to be a Hokie. He's so proud that he also has become a big recruiter for Frank Beamer and Virginia Tech.
"Tech has been on fire," Coleman said. "I have constantly been in guys' ears. I told them we have to take the next step to a national championship. I had to stay on top of our commitments and tell everyone you have to stick with the program. Lately it's paying off with lots of commitments. I do everything like Facebook, Twitter and text messaging. I do everything. It doesn't stop with me."
Coleman has been a part of two big summer camps with The Opening and now Gridiron Kings. He knows he's blessed to be in the position he's in.
"It's a dream come true if you are serious about football," Coleman said. "Going to Oregon was a huge dream for me and to come down to Florida is a dream, too. You have to compete and play your best, and I can't ask for anything more."
Family joins Irish family
Tee Shepard (Fresno, Calif./Central) and Deontay Greenberry (Fresno, Calif./Washington Union) have always been close. They are family, literally. The two are cousins and very tight. It's no wonder they ended up committing to the same school -- Notre Dame.
"We grew up together," Greenberry said. "We have been tight since we were little and going to school together is something we always dreamed about. We were very fortunate enough to make it happen. We got offers from all over but pulled the trigger on Notre Dame. They have a great combination of academics and athletics."
Shepard, 6-0 and 180 pounds, plays cornerback. Greenberry, 6-2 and 185 pounds, is a wide receiver. They are two good athletes who can't wait to get to South Bend.
"We are going to turn it up once we get to Notre Dame," Shepard said. "We are going to win a national championship. That's how we will do it."
In the meantime, the cousins didn't travel across the country just for fun.
"Man, it was an 11-hour flight for us," Greenberry said. "We didn't come out here for nothing. We came out to ball and compete. He's going to win the MVP of the defense and I am going to win the MVP of the offense."
Both players are members of the ESPNU 150.
Monte Kiffin made Starr's choice easy
Outside linebacker Scott Starr (Norco, Calif./Norco) fulfilled his dream. One day soon he will wear the USC uniform. He committed to the Trojans and is excited to play for that staff, especially defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
"I am from Southern California and I wanted to go to USC since the fifth grade," Starr said. "You should never forget where you come from. Now I have to help recruit for them.
"My relationship with the staff is great. I went over there a couple times and they talk to you like regular guys hanging out. It's the best coaching staff in the USA. Monte is the best DC in the history of the game. It will be a privilege to play for that coaching staff."
At one point Starr didn't know the USC offer was coming. He was first offered by Oregon and it didn't take the Trojans too long to counter.
"When they offered I was considering Oregon," Starr said. "They offered me before USC. Then USC offered me a week later. I talked about it with my family and the Trojans were the best decision for me."
Starr is a four-star recruit and the nation's No. 21 ranked OLB.
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at email@example.com.