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College football recruiting roundup

By PETE YOUNG

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 6, 2001


In his first season at North Carolina State, coach Chuck Amato installed a pass-happy offense like the "Fast Break" attack at his former school, Florida State.

In his second season, Amato is finding skill position players to operate his offense -- right under FSU's nose.

On Wednesday, the start of the national signing period, N.C. State is slated to sign a top-flight quarterback and three highly regarded wide receivers from the Sunshine State.

Quarterback Jay Davis (Clearwater Central Catholic, the Times' No. 22-ranked prospect in Florida) and receivers Sterling Hicks (Pompano Beach Ely, No. 16) and Chris Murray (Armwood, No. 17) all are committed to N.C. State. The third wideout, Fred Span of Bradenton Southeast, was part of a posse of Division I-caliber receivers who gave Southeast arguably the state's most dangerous offense.

Last season N.C. State passed for 3,528 yards, second-most in the ACC behind Florida State, and averaged more than 40 pass attempts a game. Making the Wolfpack even more enticing to receivers is the departure of star wideout Koren Robinson, who declared for the NFL draft.

Davis could have a tougher path to playing time. Philip Rivers, a freshman last season, threw for 3,364 yards and 27 touchdowns.

LITTLE MAN, BIG PLAYER: Want to see steam come out of Sam Roper's ears? Tell him Donyelle Williams isn't good enough to be a Division I football player.

That's what most college coaches are telling the Seminole coach despite the 5-foot-6, 170-pound Williams' sensational senior season.

"Forget size -- he can play," said Roper, who noted that Williams also is a good student who has qualified academically. "I've been doing this for 29 years, and I'm telling them, "He can play for you.' But they're not listening. It's frustrating."

Williams, who has starred in several all-star games and can play receiver, running back or cornerback, has been recruited by Division I-A Ohio University, Duke and Alabama-Birmingham, as well as I-AA Rhode Island and Valdosta (Ga.) State, but has not been offered a scholarship yet.

"In the national championship game, the running back (for Oklahoma, Quentin Griffin) was 5-6," Roper said. "Donyelle would be an ideal slot guy, a guy who needs to run and block and catch. He can do it all. I don't know what else to tell them."

One Seminole football player is expected to sign Wednesday, though he never played for the Warhawks. Bryan Bass, a wide receiver who played for Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy in the fall and transferred to Seminole for baseball season (he's considered one of the top shortstops in the nation), orally committed to Alabama in the fall.

I CAN DO BOTH: Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan lost out on top-flight prospect Julius Hodge, who signed with N.C. State in November, but he might inherit another shooting guard next season.

Fred Gibson (6-3, 175), a wide receiver from Waycross (Ga.) Ware County who recently committed to the Gators, also is a good basketball player and plans to play both sports at Florida.

WEEKEND IN KNOXVILLE: Hernando linebacker/fullback Dee Brown took his last official visit this weekend, to Tennessee. Brown also is being recruited by UCF, USF, Georgia and Mississippi, and he expects to play football and baseball in college.

Most schools are recruiting Brown as a linebacker, but recent turnabouts could interest the Vols in him as a fullback. Tennessee possibly has lost two oral commitments at the position in two weeks. Some recruiting Web sites are reporting Brown committed to UCF during the weekend, but Monday afternoon Brown said that was not true.

AS LYDELL'S WORLD TURNS: Gaither running back Lydell Ross, the Times' No. 1 area recruit, committed to Florida and then Notre Dame, but he backed off both. This weekend he visited Ohio State and said it was the best of his recruiting trips.

Ross said Monday he would make a decision on a school today, but that he wouldn't make an announcement of his decision until a news conference Wednesday. Stay tuned.

FSU? UNC? OTHER?: Bradenton Southeast quarterback Adrian McPherson, rated the No. 2 prospect in the state by the Times, is expected to announce his college choice at 2:30 p.m. today. Florida State and North Carolina reportedly are the leading contenders for McPherson, who intends to play football and basketball in college, but South Florida, among others, still is recruiting him.

ROCK, CHALK JAYHAWK: Robinson running back/linebacker Clark Green has committed to Kansas.

- Staff writers Brant James and Frank Pastor contributed to the this report.

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