January 3, 2007

Army East notebook: Plenty of recruiting news

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -There was plenty of news and happenings surrounding the East squad on Tuesday at the U.S. Army All American Bowl practices and press conference. With many of the players on the East team undecided, recruiting rumors were swirling led by the possible destination of massive defensive tackle Joseph Barksdale.

Bayou for Barksdale?

Barksdale, the biggest player on the East team, has narrowed his list down to three schools. The 6-foot-6, 330-pounder will choose between Ohio State, Michigan State and LSU during the game on Saturday. However, he's already committed to the school of his choice.

"I've been committed for a couple of weeks now," said Barksdale. "In fact, I'm already enrolled there and I begin classes in a few weeks. I've already told the two teams I'm not choosing and I'm surprised that it hasn't leaked out yet. You won't hear it from me until Saturday, but I've known for awhile."

If you're a betting man, put your money on LSU in this race. Ohio State was at one time Barksdale's leader but the Tigers have apparently won this battle in the end if you go by rumors around the practice field.

But no LSU for Austin

While LSU looks good for Barksdale, the Tigers can't get 'em all. Despite rumors regarding a late official visit to LSU, Marvin Austin is not interested in the Tigers.

"No, I'm not visiting there," said Austin. "Nothing against the program, it's a great program but I've narrowed down my list and I don't want to start adding teams."

Austin still lists Southern Cal as his leader with North Carolina and FSU right behind the Trojans and Tennessee and Maryland trailing. He'll visit UNC unofficially on Jan. 12, FSU on Jan. 19 and he doesn't know what he's doing the last two visit weekends. One person Austin would like to talk to about Southern Cal is 2006 signee Antwine Perez from New Jersey. Perez left USC after his freshman year and will enroll at either Maryland or Michigan soon.

"I want to see why he left," said Austin. "It's a long way to go to school so maybe he can tell me a few things."

Wilson solid to the Trojans

Florida offensive lineman James Wilson separated his shoulder twice on Monday but still hopes to play on Saturday if he can. That's one tough cookie. Or should we say…Trojan?

Wilson was wearing a USC hat on Tuesday roaming the hallways around the media room and when asked how solid he was to the Trojans, Wilson said, "I'm 100-percent solid. I'm going to USC."

But that doesn't mean another visit isn't in the works.

"I'll probably take an official visit to Florida in January," said Wilson. "But I'm solid to USC."

Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day

When asked what he's learned from the East coaches so far in San Antonio, wide receiver and future Illinois standout Arrelious Benn deadpanned, "I learned that they don't take crap from anyone."

More for Illinois

Benn, Martez Wilson, D'Angelo McCray, isn't that enough for Ron Zook? Apparently not. Chicago-area running back Robert Hughes said he will choose between Illinois and Notre Dame at the game on Saturday. Numerous sources say that the 5-foot-11, 228-pounder is an Illinois lock.

Not so sure where he's headed

New Jersey offensive lineman Anthony Davis suffered a concussion on Tuesday during the morning session so perhaps he truly is confused as to where he's going to end up in college.

When asked if he's already chosen between Ohio State and Rutgers, Davis said that he had and he knows where he's going. Following a question about his mohawk haircut, something he decided to have done late in the summer, Davis was asked which team he's decided on. His answer? He said he hadn't decided yet.

Glades Gator

Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Central wide receiver Deonte Thompson still has a couple of official visits left to take if he wants them, but according to one source he's headed to Florida….if his headgear means anything. Apparently when all the players who are committed were asked to take a picture wearing the hat of their destination, Thompson put on a Florida hat. No word on whether the picture was taken or if he's set to announce a decision, but at least a few observers are sure he's headed to Gainesville.

Changing their minds?

The best rumors around the U.S. Army All American Bowl practices are of those players who might switch their commitments. Last year it was Ricky Sapp who was rumored to be thinking about a change from Clemson to Florida State and this year it's Greg Little and Sidell Corley. However, there seems to be as much a chance of Little and Corley changing their minds as there was of Sapp to switch ACC teams last year.

The Little rumors began when his teammate and good friend, quarterback Mike Johnson became a potential Tarheels offer. The Heels could still offer Johnson, who has been a hot commodity of late and is awaiting his first offer, but that wouldn't change much for Little.

"If Mike committed to UNC, I'd say there would be a 2 or 3 percent chance I'd switch," said Little with a smile. "It would be tempting of course because we're close, but I'm sold on Notre Dame."

As for Corley, many expect Alabama to make a strong push once they have a head coach in place and Oklahoma has been charging hard as well. However, Corley has been talking all Gators throughout the week and doesn't seem to be considering any other program.

Tough guys

East coach Greg Toal isn't one to mince words when it comes to tough guys and he's clearly a bit disappointed that his team is so banged up so early. With just four healthy offensive linemen and numerous defensive linemen banged up (Corley with a hamstring, Austin and Barksdale with an ankle and Torrey Davis out briefly Tuesday with what looked like a rib injury), Toal is anxious to see who toughs it out.

"We had a few guys on the defensive line who refused to move to offense to help out and that's not good," he said. "We'll see over the next few days who the tough guys are."

The first two days of practice for the East have been hard and physical.

"Coach is pushing us like crazy," said Austin. "We're pretty banged up but if we can stay healthy we'll be ready for the game, that's for sure."

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