- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
Ten ESPN 300 prospects from the East region count themselves among the top uncommitted prospects in the 2014 class, and there is a very strong ACC flavor to most of their recruitments. An ACC school is the favorite or in the running for eight of the 10, and surprisingly it is not just Florida State and Miami, which are both in the top five of the ESPN class rankings, under consideration.
Here is a recruiting breakdown of the uncommitted ESPN 300 prospects from the East region:
DE Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge)
The final three schools for the No. 4 prospect are Alabama, Florida and Michigan, but Hand’s commitment is Michigan’s to lose. The five-star officially visited the Wolverines for the Notre Dame game Sept. 7, and it only strengthened Michigan’s placement among Hand’s top group. Both the Tide (Oct. 25) and the Gators (Nov. 8 ) will receive official visits before a Nov. 14 decision. Virginia Tech was once considered the favorite to secure Hand’s commitment until he dropped the Hokies because the school did not offer the major he intends to pursue.
CB Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate Academy)
The top-five cornerback has consistently listed SEC schools such as Alabama and Florida toward the top of his list, but it looks as if Tabor will remain close to home. He has visited Maryland several times, and it is hard to project Tabor anywhere but College Park. He will announce his decision at the Under Armour All-America Game, which should give the Terps some added exposure as well.
OT Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara)
Much like Tabor, it seems Prince will play his college football for the local school. Prince seems a little more likely to possibly end up elsewhere as Florida State and Ohio State have both made impressions on him, but Maryland is still in the pole position. There were rumors he set up an official visit to Florida, but Prince has no definite date to visit Gainesville, Fla., at the moment. No timetable for a decision has been set, but do not expect one to come before the season ends.
DT Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Abraham Lincoln)
A former basketball player, Holley picked up a football for the first time his junior season and quickly became a national recruit. He has taken several unofficial visits with schools such as Florida, Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Penn State previously hosting Holley. He plans to take several official visits, if not all five. It’s hard to predict a leader for the No. 8 defensive tackle as he genuinely seems open to a large contingent of schools. Syracuse is a sleeper after Holley’s summer visit to the campus, but the likelihood he signs with the Orange is small.
ATH Dravon Henry (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa)
With Penn State out of the picture, it is hard to envision Henry landing anywhere but Pittsburgh or West Virginia. It was thought to have been a battle between those two for quite some time, but the top prospect in Pennsylvania is getting closer to officially naming them as a final two with the elimination of the Nittany Lions. Henry also has Ohio State in his top three and his father, Roland, said if a new school were to offer, Henry would consider, but this has all the makings for another Pitt-WVU competition.
OT Alex Bookser (Pittsburgh/Mt. Lebanon)
Recruiting has not been a priority for Bookser recently, although he has released a list of top schools. Ohio State and Pittsburgh have separated from the group, however, though Michigan State and a few SEC schools continue to linger. The Panthers might have an edge as the hometown school, but Bookser thoroughly enjoyed both his visits to Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes have a big need at offensive tackle, so it is unlikely Ohio State runs out of room for Bookser.
ATH Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway)
The two-way athlete has been very methodical with his recruitment, taking visits when he can and keeping several schools among his top group. A recent official visit to Michigan State now has the Spartans as a legitimate contender. Mark Dantonio is no stranger to western Pennsylvania after landing three prospects from the region over the last two classes. Michigan and Penn State might be out of room for Nicholson, which bolds well for nearby Pitt. Several former Gateway players are on the Panthers’ roster, and current teammate Anthony Davis could land with Pitt, too. Nicholson is high on West Coast schools Oregon and Stanford, however, and he set an official visit to Oregon for late October.
TE Garrett Dickerson (Oradell, N.J./Bergen Catholic)
Dickerson could play on either sides of the ball in college, and all schools in his final three are recruiting him differently. Stanford, which he named his top school in June, wants him as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Michigan likes him as a defensive end, and Northwestern can see him on either side of the ball. With Michigan the favorite for defensive end Da’Shawn Hand, Dickerson’s decision looks to come down to the Cardinal and the Wildcats. Though Stanford is his leader, Dickerson has many ties to Northwestern. His brother and a former teammate play for the Wildcats, and 2014 commit Cameron Queiro is Dickerson’s teammate.
DE Kurt Holuba (Oradell, N.J./Bergen Catholic)
Last season, Bergen Catholic coach Nunzio Campanile said Holuba would be a major BCS prospect. He did not hold a single offer at the time, unlike Dickerson who counted several BCS schools among his suitors by then. Campanile projected correctly, and now Holuba is down to five schools: Duke, Florida State, Stanford, Virginia and Wisconsin. Academics are a major factor for Holuba, who plans to make a few official visits. The Cardinal could be the frontrunner for Holuba, who might join Dickerson in Palo Alto.
WR Jamil Kamara (Virginia Beach, Va./Bishop Sullivan)
Kamara has a short list of schools, but his recruitment will likely come down to Pittsburgh and Virginia. The Cavaliers have been at the top of Kamara’s list for a long time, and it would be a surprise to see him land anywhere other than Charlottesville. That said, a June visit to Pittsburgh did impress Kamara, and the Panthers look to be the clear No. 2 at the moment. A visit to Wisconsin in October looms, however, which makes the Badgers the sleeper for Kamara’s pledge.