As I await my going-away party, I will write the first installment previewing the Zips 2007 recruiting class.
These are all players whom the Akron coaching staff has offered a scholarship, according to Scout.com. I'm going to break it down into four categories: offensive skill positions, offensive line, defensive backfield and defensive line.
Today installment is the offensive skill positions...
- Cody Catalina, a 6-foot-4 quarterback from Greensburg, Pa. Syracuse is going after Catalina pretty hard and may be the frontrunner, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Vanderbilt and Rutgers like him as well. Penn State, Pittsburgh and West Virginia also have a chance. Everything I have read indicates that Akron is not an early leader to sign Catalina. Catalina is the only quarterback that Scout.com lists as having a scholarship offer from Akron. ESPN.com gives Catalina a 74 grade, the highest for any Akron target listed on that site. Unfortunately, ESPN also says Akron is currently third in line, behind Rutgers and Vanderbilt. Syracuse is fourth. Catalina is a tall pocket passer with speed. His only fault seems to be poor mechanics.
- Tim Cortazzo, a 6-0.5 receiver from Harrison City, Pa. Akron is one of only two Division I teams to offer Cortazzo a scholarship. Temple is the other. Right away, that bodes well for the Zips getting the player who runs a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash and caught 37 passes for eight touchdowns last season. The Tribune-Review says, however, more offers are on the way. They may come from BCS schools Iowa, Michigan State, Pittsburgh or West Virginia -- the other teams Scout.com says Cortazzo has interest in.
- Kyle Jefferson, a 6-3 receiver from Glenville High School in Cleveland. Jefferson was a track star in high school, winning often in 400- and 200-meter races. His 40 times are anywhere from 4.5 to 4.75. He has offers from Indiana and Wisconsin, as well as Akron. Purdue, Ohio State and Texas are also schools of interest, although they have yet to offer a scholarship.
- Gary Pride, a 5-9 receiver from Cincinnati. When you're Pride's size as a receiver, you better be lighting fast. And Pride appears to be, having been clocked at 4.4 in the 40. Akron is Pride's only scholarship offer and only school of interest, according to Scout.com. Rivals.com says he also has medium interest in Iowa, Oregon, Purdue and low interest in Marshall and Toledo. Pride ran track in high school and was on the honor roll, the Cincinnati Enquirer says.
- Terence White, a 6-1 receiver from Pickerington, Ohio. White runs a 4.5 and projects to a return specialist in college and maybe more. Akron, Central Michigan and Miami (Ohio) have offered White a scholarship. White missed his entire junior year to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. "Terrence is a very versatile athlete," Pickerington coach Jay Sharrett told Scout.com. "He is a legitimate 4.4 40-yard dash guy who also is a threat as a return specialist." White also has interest in Maryland, Marshall, Cincinnati and West Virginia.
- Rob Reiland, a 6-3, 230-pound tight end from Massillon. Reiland is one of OhioVarsity.com's top 10 tight ends. The linked story says he hasn't really had a chance to show off what he can do at tight end in high school. Miami (Ohio) is the only other school to offer Reiland a scholarship. Rivals.com says he has interest in Ohio, Ohio State, Boston College, Purdue, Vanderbilt and Pittsburgh.
- Ken Bruton, a 6-2, 205 tight end from Miamisburg, Ohio. Bruton is another of OhioVarsity.com's top 10 tight ends in the state. Much like Reiland, Bruton can do more in college than in high school if he concentrates on the tight end position. Akron is Bruton's only offer at this point. Bruton also has interest in Boston College, Cincinnati, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio State and Pittsburgh. ESPN.com says Akron is Bruton's No. 1 choice at this point. The site says Bruton is a good blocker and adequate receiver but needs to add bulk to play in college. ESPN.com giaves Bruton a 71 ranking, which is third-highest among players it lists interested in Akron.
- John Hughes, a 6-2, 260 tight end from Gahanna, Ohio. He went to Lincoln High School. Quick. What other Zips athlete attended Lincoln. Time is up. Men's basketball guard Nate Linhart. Akron is Hughes' only offer so far. Hughes participated in the shot put in high school. Rivals.com says Ball State, Indiana, Michigan State and Toledo are in the running. Scout.com adds Wisconsin, Ohio State and Boston College to that list.
- Mark Wooldridge, a 5-9, 190 running back from Cuyahoga Falls (Walsh Jesuit). Akron and Miami (Ohio) are Wooldridge's only offers so far. He has run for two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons at Walsh. He ran a 4.56 in the 40 at a combine in Pittsburgh. Scout.com says Wooldridge also has interest in Ohio State, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Purdue. His interest is highest in Florida State, Rivals.com says. In his own words on Scout.com: "I can run fast, I have great agility and I can also run through a defender if I have to. And I think my field vision is a great key to my running style."
- Marcus Dowtin, a 6-2, 205 running back from North Bethesda, Md. As a junior, he ran for 562 yards on 67 carries, scoring 10 touchdowns. Pretty good numbers -- good enough to win an honorable mention all-state award. Akron is Dowtin's only scholarship offer so far, but the running back also has interest in Cincinnati, Maryland, Penn State, Rutgers, Syracuse and West Virginia.
- Frank Edmonds, a 5-8, 185 running back from Lakewood St. Edward. This guy is being called the high school version of Barry Sanders. He runs the 40 in 4.4, Rivals.com says. As a junior, Edmonds ran for 2,434 yards and 23 touchdowns. That was good enough to win all-state and all-conference honors. For the time being, Akron and Ball State are his only offers. That will change. Edmonds also has interest in Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio State.
- Robbie Frey, a 6-0, 190 running back from Lehighton, Pa. He made the Class AAA All-State team in Pennsylvania. Akron is his only offer, but other schools of interest include Cincinnati, Illinois, Penn State, Syracuse, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin. Rivals.com adds Kent State and Miami (Ohio) to that list. Frey is a speedster, competing in the 400-meter dash in high school.
That's all for the offensive skill positions. As you can see, coach J.D. Brookhart and staff seemed to have gotten an earlier start than most coaches. Most of the players I listed only have scholarship offers from Akron so far.
I will profile the offensive line targets later this weekend or early next week. Feel free to comment if you know anything further about any of these players.