Gallagher column: Lack of Rowan recruits baffle coaches
Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan calls it “baffling.” West Rowan coach Scott Young says he’s “at a loss for words.”
They were talking about Rowan County football players being a part of National Signing Day on Wednesday.
Rather, not being a part of National Signing Day.
At West, Young had a party for two of his players, but neither carried the name “Logan Stoodley,” the county’s best linebacker and reigning county defensive player of the year.
At Salisbury, Pinyan didn’t even have a party, despite coaching Justin Ruffin, the county offensive player of the year, and Keion Adams, described by many as the best pure athlete — period — in the county.
“I think I speak for about every coach in the county when I say we don’t understand it,” Pinyan said. “It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”
•Or maybe, we’re just spoiled rotten in Rowan County. Since 2009, the county — especially state champions West and Salisbury — have produced many Division I players: K.P. Parks (Virginia), Chris Smith (Arkansas), Jon Crucitti (Army), Romar Morris (North Carolina) and Darien Rankin (North Carolina) immediately come to mind.
Young made a good point. A tradition should carry some weight. And the fact West and Salisbury each won double-figure games this past season, there have to be good players.
“Sure, we may not have two, three or four Division I players like some years,” Young noted, “but we’ve got plenty of capable kids. I’ve never experienced anything like this since we’ve been good.”
Stoodley may be deemed too short by some recruiters or maybe his 40 time isn’t what they want.
“But sometimes, you have to look at productivity,” Young said, “and there have been few players who have been as productive as Logan.”
•So far, Stoodley’s only offer has been from Limestone, a Division II school in South Carolina who is starting a program in 2014. He has visited Catawba and Brevard. Young always points to West Liberty (W. Va.), “who has been good to us and hopefully will be again.”
There were other Falcons at Wednesday’s party like linebacker Bubba McLaughlin, offensive lineman Brandon Hansen defensive lineman Kiero Cuthbertson and shifty, 1,000-yard back Desmond Jackson, all without a home.
•When the season began, people figured Adams would not only be a National Signing Day participant, but a Shrine Bowler after a combine where his 6-2, 230-pound body churned an impressive 40 time.
He then proved his worth the entire season, making one spectacular play after another.
But as Wednesday turned into today, he has not signed. Adams and 6-5, 290-pound offensive lineman Parker McKeithan visited Appalachian State last weekend and Pinyan feels they both could end up as preferred walk-ons.
“I believe both are going up there,” Pinyan said. “There’s no doubt Keion can play up there. Parker will be a project.”
The speedy Ruffin scored about a trillion touchdowns (OK, it was 33) and ran for 1,724 yards, averaging an eye-popping 11.6 yards per tote.
Despite Pinyan trying his best, Ruffin did not sign on Wednesday. The University of Charleston (a D-II school in West Virginia that is home to former Hornet quarterback John Knox) has offered. He has received interest from Catawba and even Southern Conference member Furman.
Furman? “They’ve kinda been in it all along,” Pinyan said. “Maybe they missed on one. It happens. Recruiting’s a cutthroat business. In recruiting it’s about needs. Are they in need of what we’ve got?”
•One of the most misunderstood aspects of National Signing Day is the parents who thinks their kid has to sign on that day. Must sign.
“Parents don’t need to panic,” said Pinyan, who has the perfect example in Patrick Doleman, a receiver in his wishbone offense. He didn’t sign with Methodist until July and became one of the school’s best receivers ever.
Recruiting is a total crap shoot. Pinyan also points to Rankin. North Carolina told him they were not going to offer. Then, he attended a one-day camp, was impressive and was offered. We saw him start for the Tar Heels at safety last season as a redshirt freshman.
“You’ve just got to let everything play out,” Pinyan said.
Young agrees but admits he was expecting a little more action on National Signing Day.
“I’ve got some quality players still without a home,” Young said. “I’m sure they’ll find a home in a month or so. But usually, it’s already done by now.”
•Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or firstname.lastname@example.org.