Gallagher column: A quiet National Signing Day in Rowan

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 1, 2012

SALISBURY — I had a local sports fan tell me the other day he couldn’t believe that it would be a quiet National Signing Day in the county. No one’s inking a Division I scholarship?
Let’s face it. When it comes to big-time high school football over the past few years, we have been spoiled rotten. Rowan has annually been as active on National Signing Day as any county in the state.
Not this year.
“This was the first signing day we didn’t sign someone in 11 years,” West Rowan coach Scott Young marveled.
That’s quite a run of Falcons. And we could also count on Salisbury’s Joe Pinyan to give us someone to write about, too, with a sprinking of other schools signing someone.
Remember last year? Holy cow.
Salisbury’s Romar Morris and Darien Rankin to North Carolina. West Rowan’s Domonique Noble to Georgia Tech. Carson’s Shaun Warren to Western Carolina.
Catawba coach Chip Hester was smart enough to see there was enough talent right here in his backyard that he signed four future Indians — West’s B.J. Sherrill, Trey Mashore and Patrick Hampton, along with Carson’s Cody Clanton.
North Rowan’s star defensive lineman Javon Hargrave signed with South Carolina State.
That’s quite an all-star team. And it’s not even counting the horde of players — including Rowan defensive player of the year Eric Cowan of West — who signed later with Division II and Division III teams.
Before that? West Rowan sent K.P. Parks to Virginia, Chris Smith to Arkansas and Jon Crucitti to Army.
Before that? Guys like West’s Tristan Dorty to Wake Forest and Salisbury’s Gordy Witte to Appalachian State.
There was always somebody going big. Which meant a big party. And big excitement.
This year? National Signing Day came and went without a whisper from any coach.
“There’s not a lot of marquee players,” said Pinyan, “but there’s a lot of good ones.”

West’s Young never had to tell us there would be a signing party in the library. We knew to just come over. This year, not a peep until Wednesday afternoon.
Young announced Rowan’s first signing of 2012 would be this morning. Jarvis Morgan, the 6-foot-3 receiver, is going to Winston-Salem State.
Rowan’s offensive player of the year Dinkin Miller should land somewhere. NPC defensive player of the year Greg Dixon should end up on somebody’s defensive line, but he’s still waiting.
Offensive lineman Hunter Mashburn got a chance to impress scouts at the Shrine Bowl. Mashburn’s O-line buddy Mike Norman will probably be offered, too.
Along with defensive lineman Maurice Warren Young is expected to make a trip to Division II West Liberty soon. Several players could join former teammate Cowan in West Virginia.

At Salisbury, Pinyan said Fayetteville State wants defensive lineman William Brown and running back Dominique Dismuke. John Hall has received interest from Guilford. Kicker Michael Mazur has been offered a shot at Charlotte.
Defensive lineman Sam Humble, a 6-foot-4 defensive lineman, has the most potential to put on weight. Catawba has shown interest, as well as Ferrum.

Pinyan thinks the best story surrounds his kicker Mazur going to Charlotte. Brad Lambert’s 49ers won’t start their first season until 2013.
“He’s actually a better punter,” Pinyan said of Mazur. “And that’s a plus for him. A place like Charlotte would like to find a kicker-punter so it won’t have to burn but one scholarship.”
Mazur continues a long line of good kickers: Phillip Hilliard at Wingate, Zach Collins for a year at Wake Forest, Frankie Cardelle at N.C. Central and now Catawba, and last year’s kicker David Simons, who had a chance to kick in college.
“Penn State University is known for its linebackers,” Pinyan smiled. “We’re known for kickers.”

Carson should have several Cougars sign later, led by linebacker T.J. Smith and defensive lineman Jeremiah Smith. Offensive line behemoths Mitch Galloway and Daniel Rodriguez could get opportunities. DBs Dontae Gilbert and Zach Blythe have garnered attention during the season.
Carson’s next big recruit might be current sophomore Myquon Stout, a defensive line stalwart.

At North, Tasker Fleming, who resigned at the end of the season, said linebacker Jake Becker, who led the county in fumble recoveries, has impressed enough to get D-2 attention.
South had a small senior class. East hasn’t reported.

One thing that has held some of this year’s players back is grades. Rowan County defensive player of the year Kavari Hillie, will probably end up at a junior college or prep school. Dismuke getting into Fayetteville State, is contingent on his SAT scores.
Pinyan used UNC’s Morris as an example. He kept scoring 890 on his SAT but he kept taking it and suddenly, it went up to 980.
“Other kids can learn a lesson,” Pinyan said. “You take the SAT more than once and focus on your grades a little more.”
National Signing Day parties will certainly return to Rowan County. We expect it. Why?
This talented county has spoiled us rotten.

Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or