Sorry it has taken so long for the next installment of my recruiting series. I have been really busy at the Indianapolis Star, covering the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians. It has been a lot of fun.
Anyhow, here are the offensive linemen to whom coach J.D. Brookhart and company have offered a scholarship.
- Zac Kasparek, 6-foot-6, 300 pounds from New Brighton, Pa. Yes, he is the brother of Zips tight end Kris Kasparek. And yes, he is a very key prospect for Akron. Right now, he has offers from Akron, Cincinnati and Marshall. Penn State, Pittsburgh and West Virginia are also candidates, Scout.com says. Rivals.com adds Virginia and Maryland to that list. I have a message for Kris Kasparek: Please encourage your brother to play here. Convince him that he can be in the NFL by coming to Akron. It is as important than any catch you will make next year.
- Greg Nosal, 6-7, 255 from Virginia Beach, Va. Nosal has two offers: Virginia Tech and Akron. Right off the bat, this will be an uphill battle for Brookhart's staff. Nosal told VTinsider.com the Hokies are his favorite so far, and he plans to commit somewhere in late June or early July. The story says that Tech has targeted Nosal from very early in the process, despite his relatively low profile in recruiting circles. North Carolina and Virginia are also possibilities for Nosal. Rivals.com adds several more schools that Nosal may choose from. Likelihood is low that he wears the blue and gold.
- Arthur Ray, 6-2, 300 from Chicago. Ray is a big dude. And so is his list of interested teams. Ray already has offers from Akron, Boston College, Iowa State and Northern Illinois. In addition, he has interest in Bowling Green, Colorado State and Kentucky. Rivals.com says Miami (Ohio) also is a team of interest. I can't find much more on this guy.
- Ben Burkett, 6-4, 260 from Toledo. Scout.com says three MAC teams have offered Burkett: Miami, Toledo and Akron. Rivals.com adds that several Big 10 teams have interest in the offensive tackle: Northwestern, Iowa, Michigan and Purdue. The site also mentions Ball State. Burkett also is a discus thrower in high school.
It appears Brookhart's staff is thinking big with these offensive linemen this year -- literally and figuratively. After two good classes of beef, Akron is investing in quality over quantity.
- While scouring the Web for these mini-bios, I found an interesting feature in the Virginian Pilot. A writer followed around Zips assistant Aaron Alford on a recruiting trip. After reading it, I am much more appreciative of these assistants' efforts.
James Brunelli became Jodi Kest's second assistant this week. He comes from the University of Albany, where he was an assistant.
Kest said she likes Brunelli because "he is a relentless recruiter."
Kest's other assistant so far is Bob Bolden.
Last, but CERTAINLY not least, the Zips are in Sacramento for the NCAA Championships which begin tomorrow.
The Zips have one key advantage as a team: experience. Four athletes have been to nationals before. Those who have not, Randall Hafner and Auston Papay, are coming off the best discus throws of the careers.
John Russell (pole vault) and Ashley Kaufman (javelin) have a serious shot at becoming Akron's first national champions -- in anything -- since Christi Smith won the heptathlon in 2000.
Natalie Sako and Tomasz Smialek enter nationals in the middle of the pack for high jumpers. But both have been to the NCAA Championships before. That should work in their favor.
The action starts at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow with Kaufman's javelin preliminary event. All six will compete tomorrow. The finals will be Friday.
I hope to have comments from coach Dennis Mitchell tomorrow after the prelims.