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July 21, 2011

Halfway Home: Running Backs

Cincinnati has a verbal commitment from Deionte Buckley. It is not new. In fact Buckley began the cycle's proceedings by verbally declaring his allegiance in April. A dozen players have verbally committed since Buckley started "The Movement."

Alas none of the pledges share his position. Will UC sign a second running back in the Class of 2012? Who are the frontrunners for such a commitment?

BCR takes a look at where the RB recruitment has come from and where it is going in today's Halfway Home: Running Backs.

Beginning at the beginning

The running back recruiting truly began over a year ago when Cincinnati offered William Mahone and Jamire Westbrook straight out of camp. Two in-state talents nabbed offers eighteen months before their appropriate signing day. Nearing the backstretch in their recruitments Westbrook has shut it down (Miami-OH) and Mahone has moved on.

Cincinnati then reached out to Warren Ball and Brionte Dunn, two guys who subsequently declared for Ohio State. Former Running Backs Coach Mark Elder spotted some exceptional talent in Tennessee and extended offers to I'Tavius Mathers, Jovon Robinson, Brian Kimbrow, and Jaylen Walton. Three of them chose SEC teams with Mathers still open.

The next wave of possibilities exists in Florida. UC has offered seven rushers from the nation's second most southern state. Recruits from the Sunshine State are warm to the notion.

Holding offers:

Rushel Shell, Drew Harris, and Greg Garmon represent the Pennsylvania contingent. Cincinnati struck gold with Jameel Poteat (highest rated 2011 signing) and dropped anchors around the state again. If UC is to land a PA back in the 2012 class these three are unlikely to be that man.

Take a look at many of the available UC targets along with their level of interest.

Jamie Gilmore (Citra, FL)

July has been a hectic month for Gilmore, one filled with camps and combines. He left an imprint at Tallahassee NFTC then battled for recognition across Florida. Gilmore has camped with South Florida, Florida State, and Miami. Duke also hosted the emerging back.

Of all the schools Gilmore has seen Duke is most likely to get a return visit. No flights booked Gilmore has identified two schools as official visit destinations.

"I will go to Duke and Utah," said Gilmore. "Tomorrow I will go to Friday Night Lights in Florida. They I will have a week off. I am going to talk to my top guy and get everything situated."

Cincinnati offered this summer but Gilmore acknowledges he and the Bearcats have not kept in frequent contact.

"I have to get back in touch with them," said Gilmore.

Dennis Norfleet (Detroit, MI)

Norfleet returns to Detroit this weekend with less clarity than he left with. He went to camp at Tennessee and Alabama. The Volunteers had offered, but Norfleet felt snubbed by his visit.

"I did good at Tennessee," said Norfleet. "I split out. I played running back and played slot."

On the heels of the Alden Hill verbal Tennessee coaches did little to ingratiate themselves to the hopeful Norfleet. He got virtually zero face time with his recruiter Charlie Baggett and no campus tour to speak of.

Thought to be trailing Michigan State heavily by some writers Cincinnati flips the scrip next week.

"I am supposed to go down there on the 30th for a picnic and learn some of the things they do as a team," said Norfleet of Cincinnati.

It will be a seminal moment in the UC recruitment. He has long hoped for SEC offers and continues to press for one.

"I have offers from Michigan State, Tennesee, and Cincinnati," said Norfleet. "I am working on Alabama. I am looking at all my schools right now. There is no one ahead of anyone."

Anthony Wales (Louisville, KY)

After two spectacular years rushing for Louisville Central Anthony Wales is beginning to see the fruits of his labors. With offers stacking up and interest fanning out from Louisville to neighboring states Wales is about to wrap up a productive camp season.

He just got back from Arkansas and might hit up Western Kentucky this weekend.

"I attended Cincinnati's camp and that is when I first got looks from them," said Wales. "They were very proud of the work I was doing. They said to keep it up. Every drill I did was sharp."

Cincinnati has a realistic shot at landing Wales, but his official visits are unlikely to be used up on nearby schools.

"I will probably visit Notre Dame, Central Florida, Arkansas," said Wales. "I am not sure about the other schools. I plan to take unofficial visits to Louisville and Kentucky because they are close by. I plan on taking those during the season and I want to have a decision after the season."

Leading the UC recruitment of Wales is Running Backs Coach Jahmile Addae. After working directly with Wales at camp Coach Addae has a great concept of his potential. Neither he nor other recruiters would be surprised if Wales eclipses Derek Homer to become Kentucky's All-Time Leading Rusher.

Wales enters his final prep season with 5,429 rushing yards amassed. He needs nearly 2,800 to surpass Homer.

Dami Ayoola (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)

Ayoola's recruitment has gone national and contains many stout competitors. Schools like Auburn, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Illinois, and Wisconsin are not alone in offering. The jumbo back also boasts Rutgers, West Virginia, Iowa, and many others.

Kye Morgan (Somerset, NJ)

A frequent visitor to Rutgers' campus Kye Morgan looks to narrow his list soon. Virginia and nearby Rutgers lead the way with Rutgers hopeful of landing the Jersey athlete.

Capable of playing several positions in college Morgan has no plans to visit Cincinnati on the docket.

"I'm still considering them," said Morgan of Cincinnati.

And the Bearcats have not been eliminated. They just need to host Morgan before Rutgers closes the books.

William Mahone (Austintown, OH)

First offered RB in Class of 2012 has moved on. Penn State, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, and Michigan State are fighting for the lead.

Torry Clayton (Homestead, FL)

Clayton's 2010 season ended prematurely at the hands of incoming Bearcat Dwight Jackson(NOTE: Teammate and fellow UC freshman Carroll Phillips was suspended for the contest). Thanks to his Miami Central defense a 20-touchdown back was held well under his average.

As a team Homestead South Dade rushed for -36 yards.

Clayton's stock has been lukewarm throughout the summer. He visited Florida State's camp this week but did not participate.

Offers from Buffalo, Illinois, Memphis, UAB, UCF, Western Michigan, and Cincinnati have done little to percolate his interest and Clayton is hoping for more.

Roshard Burney (Palm Beach Gardens, FL)

Surrounded by Miami Hurricane fans Roshard Burney has broadened his football mind to include schools like Marshall, Memphis, and Cincinnati. Since the spring day Recruiting Coordinator John Jancek watched his practice Burney has been coveted by Cincinnati.

Before he selects a college Burney has to settle into his latest school choice, Palm Beach Gardens High.

"I transferred from Glades (Day High School)," said Burney. "For one it was becoming a hassle on my mom to drive all the way there. Another thing I wasn't getting any playing time."

Nike Training Camps in Miami and Georgia bolded his name on recruiter's sheets. Heading into his senior season Burney holds four BCS offers. Purdue is the latest.

Illinois, Cincinnati, and Rutgers are the remaining three. As it stands right now Burney is giving lots of attention to Memphis. The only school Burney definitely plans to visit this fall is in fact a BIG EAST team.

"I am definitely going to Rutgers," said Burney. "That will be my first time."

Burney has vacationed to Ohio before with family in the Canton area. Continuing receptivity with the Bearcats give them a solid chance.

Torrance Beckworth (Jacksonville, FL)

Recruited by T.J. Weist, Torrance Beckworth is really waiting for things to pick up.

"He came around spring time," said Beckworth. "I have been hearing from Purdue, MTSU. Stanford is on and off."

Beckworth has his sights set on two schools in particular.

"I haven't really considered anyone, but UConn they want to offer me," said Beckworth. "They are at the top of my list."

He has not solidified his official visits but sees UConn and an in-state school as the most likely hosts.

"Hopefully UConn," revealed Beckworth. "If Miami comes through then Miami. Those are my main two schools."

FINAL WORD:

With campus visits comes peaked interest and Cincinnati will get Dennis Norfleet to stop by July 30th. Along with Anthony Wales of Louisville Norfleet represents the best Midwest hope for a summer boost.

More than likely UC will push into fall hoping to host a few Florida-based backs for officials. Fishing in Florida can be treacherous but UC has hooks in the water all over the state. Torry Clayton, Brandon Radcliff, Roshard Burney, and Jamie Gilmore are the most receptive.

Pulling in a late season commitment from a three-star Floridian would do wonders to back up the formidable RB Class of 2011.


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