NC State benefited in 2005 after landing three in-state linemen in Fayetteville E.E. Smith offensive tackle Curtis Crouch, New Bern tackle Julian Williams, and Shelby Crest center Andy Barbee. The state's top player in the 2006 class was Southern Durham tackle Carl Johnson, who inked with the University of Florida, and the prospect who improved the most that year may have been Lumberton lineman Hutch Eckerson. Eckerson added weight and strength and when Signing Day rolled around he signed with South Carolina over a host of scholarship offers.
The 2007 class was strong as well, with top-10 prospects Landon Walker (Clemson) and Trinton Sturdivant (Georgia) leading the way, and all Sturdivant did was start as a true freshman for the Bulldogs. Sam Jones (NC State), Desmond Roberts (NC State), Quinn Barham (Penn State), Doug Weaver (Wake Forest), Henry Lawson (NC State), and Mike Golder (NC State) all signed Division-I scholarships in what turned out to be a loaded class.
The run continued in 2008, as R.J. Mattes (NC State), Nick Becton (Virginia Tech), Andrew Wallace (NC State), Michael Via (Virginia Tech), and Jonathan Cooper (North Carolina), all inked with Atlantic Coast Conference programs. Considered five of the top 20 prospects in the 2008 class, this group projects favorably to the next level.
This year's class is strong as well. Leading the way is Fayetteville Jack Britt's Xavier Nixon, by far the state's top player. Bertie's Travis Bond is a top-10 prospect in the state, and David Collins has already verbaled to North Carolina. Hertford County's Will Simmons has a scholarship offer and expects more to follow, and center Ty Howle committed recently to Penn State.
As you can see, North Carolina has been stocked full of offensive linemen and that will continue next year as Chapel Hill (NC) star Robert Crisp just might be the state's top overall prospect in the 2010 class.
Growing up a standout on the hardwood, Crisp's play in basketball earned him an invitation to attend Dave Telep's 2007 Carolina Challenge, where he turned some heads. After a solid season with the CP3 All-Stars and as a sophomore at Chapel Hill, Crisp was invited to play in this year's event, but was unable to attend and his basketball career on the competitive level could be coming to an end as he turns his attention full-time to the gridiron.
"I was suppose to play in that event again this year," said Crisp. "He called me about playing but I was actually out of town and couldn't make it.
"I'm not real sure if I'll even play basketball next year because I'm trying to really work on football. I've played AAU with the CP3 All-Stars, but this summer I'm going to try and go to a lot of football camps and stuff so I'm not too sure if I'll still do that. With the combines, I went to the Underclassmen combine not too long ago, and I'm going to the NIKE Camp at [North] Carolina on Friday. I'm going to go to the Under Armour combine next month too."
At a massive 6-foot-8 and 290 pounds, Crisp was recently timed at 5.0 in the 40-yard dash at the National Underclassmen Combine held in Durham, North Carolina. An outstanding athlete for a player his size, Crisp can also play the game. As a sophomore, he started at left tackle and nose guard for Chapel Hill, earning first-team all-conference honors at both positions in 2007.
"I had a good year because I kept getting better as the season went on," said Crisp. "I played a lot of defense too, but I'm going to be a left tackle in college. That's where the schools are going to play me.
"There is always room for improvement, but I think my biggest strength is my footwork."
Programs are already taking notice. Although official offers to a football player can't be mailed out until September 1st of his junior year, Crisp has already received verbal offers from East Carolina, NC State, and Maryland.
One program that Crisp is extremely high on is NC State. His family has season tickets to Wolfpack games and Crisp is very familiar with the program.
"I love State," he stated. "Where do I start? We have season tickets so I go to all the games, and the fans are crazy... all of them are custom-made people and real nice. The coaches are real cool. I love all of them.
"They have a nice facility and of course it's close to home. Basically with State I love everything about them."
Attending Chapel Hill High School, he's right down the road from the University of North Carolina. Teammate Jared McAdoo has already verbaled to the Tar Heels, and they are also recruiting Crisp. Is the hometown school currently under consideration?
[North] Carolina is recruiting me," said Crisp. "I think they are pretty close to offering me. Even though I wasn't a junior, I went over there for their Junior Day. Butch Davis is there and I like the environment at Carolina. They do have some nice facilities and coach Blake is also cool.
"Growing up I wasn't actually a fan of North Carolina... I've always been a Duke fan."
Although it's very early in the process, Crisp has a top five and two programs currently stick out.
"My top five schools would have to be NC State, Florida, Tennessee, Virginia, and Virginia Tech," said Crisp. "Virginia has a nice campus, and I've been up to Virginia Tech a couple of times for basketball and liked it there. Tennessee, I haven't seen their stadium, but I heard it's big and I want to visit them.
"I'd have to say NC State and Florida would be my leaders. I went down to Florida with my guardians for the Spring Game, and it was crazy. They had so many people there, and it's a great program."
Is Crisp looking to make an early decision?
"I still have a long way to go before I have to decide," he said. "It definitely won't be this year. I want to see some more colleges and see who all offers me a scholarship."