Overseas Americans might be hidden gems

Collegiate recruiters looking to find the next great prospect might want to start looking east -- way east, as in across the Atlantic.

That doesn't mean they'll need to learn how to say "verbal commitment" in four different languages; the real goldmine might be the prospects at the high schools run by the U.S. Department of Defense in Germany, the same school system that produced Shaquille O'Neal and Michael Strahan.

Unlike in the U.S., most defense department high school teams have only one or two paid coaches, all of whom are full-time teachers. Most of the staffs are comprised of volunteers, so while the players might have talent, the schools have a hard time spreading the word about them.

Take J.D. Lindsay, who lived and played football in Texas for four years before moving to Germany and attending Patch American High School in Stuttgart. Twice named an All-Europe first-team quarterback, he threw for 4,856 yards and 41 touchdowns in his four-year, 25-game career.

"It's not like Texas football," says Lindsay. "But I guess nothing really is."

Lindsay's father, Jerry, who was in the Army and is now a civilian employee of the defense department, grew up in Texas and played for Trinity High School in Euless.

"I started playing football in the third grade," Jerry Lindsay said. "Some of these kids over here don't start until their freshman year of high school. But the top one percent of kids over here, they're good."

Jerry Lindsay, who also has volunteered as Patch's offensive coordinator the last two seasons, started gathering film after seeing University of North Carolina-bound B.J. Phillips' profile and evaluation on ESPN.com's Recruit Tracker. Phillips played his freshman year at Bitburg High School in Germany and competed against J.D.

"When they were both freshman, they had a pretty good competition going already," Jerry Lindsay said. "When I saw Phillips online, I knew we were doing something wrong."

With game film sparse, Lindsay's highlight film didn't go out until February, after most Division I schools had awarded their scholarships. Scouts Inc. graded Lindsay at 71 -- the same as Phillips. That ranks him 98th among the Class of 2006 of quarterbacks and certainly capable of playing Division I football.

Two weeks ago, J.D. made the decision to attend NAIA Briar Cliff University in the fall.

"He has a very good chance of coming in and being a starter," says Briar Cliff head coach Dick Strittmatter. "We feel very fortunate that he's coming here."

While J.D. still has Division I aspirations, he's grateful that he's getting a shot at Briar Cliff. Meanwhile, Jerry Lindsay is encouraging parents at Patch and other high schools to get film highlights together and out to schools as soon as possible. That includes Class of 2008 prospect Archie Barnes, whom Lindsay says is a little raw but has Division I potential.

Malcolm Lane of Hanau High School in Germany, which competes in the same league as Patch, parlayed his All-Europe, 23-touchdown senior season into a scholarship at Hawaii. He signed April 3, more than two months after national signing day.

One of Lane's coaches produced a highlight DVD and distributed it at the AFCA convention in early January. The video eventually ended up in the hands of University of Hawaii assistant Jeff Reinebold.

"I looked at the tape and thought, 'This is a no-brainer,' " Reinebold told Stars and Stripes. "If he's as fast as he looked on tape, we had a great prospect. To get a good one this late is pretty good."

"I just got a call one afternoon," Lane told The Honolulu Star-Bulletin. "I didn't get much attention, because I didn't know what the process was, and no one had any scholarships left. Thank God that Hawaii did."

Lane will join Hawaii in the fall.

Duke also went global in its 2006 class, signing offensive lineman Pontus Bondeson of Kullagymnasiet in Hoganas, Sweden. Bondeson played Swedish junior football with another Duke signee, Fort Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas offensive lineman Marcus Lind, who is originally from Sweden.

So while recruiters might not yet flock to Europe, certain European players (and American players in Europe) are beginning to migrate toward playing Division I football in the U.S.