Davie County pair ponders ACC

MOCKSVILLE, N.C. -- Four-A Davie County sits just on the periphery of the Triad region geographically, but the solid War Eagle program perennially adds to the area's wealth of prep football talent.

This year 16-year coaching veteran Doug Illing has two rising seniors that are legitimate college prospects -- both with Division I offers already in the bag.

On Monday, Inside Carolina paid a visit to Illing and his pair of rising stars -- tight end Ted Randolph and athlete James "Cooter" Arnold.

Tar Heels co-defensive coordinator Marvin Sanders is recruiting the area and has offered a scholarship to Randolph, who considers UNC and Clemson as his leaders. The Tigers have also offered.

However, the 6-foot-4, 238-pounder said he would also consider Wake Forest and/or Ohio State if one or both were to show more interest.

Illing said that more schools are starting to call following Randolph's personal best 40-time of 4.78 seconds, turned in at the Butler High School combine last Saturday.

"He's a physical tight end," Illing said. "He's a great blocker, and he's got a lot of ‘nasty' in his blocking technique. He's very aggressive, but yet, he has great feet and great hands. He can get out and run routs and catch balls. When you put those two together, it makes a good tight end.

"There has been a lot of skepticism about his speed, but he's increased his speed and shown that he can be a versatile player."

The UNC coaches are also considering him for a role on the defensive side of the ball, but Randolph clearly would rather play tight end.

"There is nothing wrong with defense, but offense is where it's at," Randolph said.

Randolph, who says he still needs to make strides in the weight room, has not yet visited the UNC campus.

"[UNC] is a good school," Randolph said. "They've had a couple of good recruiting classes come in over the last few years. Their coaches are real nice. That's a big plus.

"I'm going to visit some of the schools that haven't shown as much interest yet, but I will probably also go to a Clemson camp and a one-day camp at UNC this summer."

Arnold, nicknamed "Cooter" by his mother for no explicable reason, is getting looks as well. At 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, he is a versatile threat. Arnold has offers from Auburn and East Carolina, and he has some interest in Virginia, Wake Forest and UNC.

But, he makes it no secret he wants to play for N.C. State; and if not there, then Virginia Tech.

"N.C. State has the best football program and facilities," Arnold said.

Two things that could slow his progress are his average 40-time -- he ran a 4.5 at the Nike combine in Virginia; and his admitted need to improve both his GPA and his SAT score in order to qualify academically at the school of his choosing.

On the field he was the feature back for Davie County in 2003, which finished 9-5, before falling in the third round of the state playoffs.

"James has the great field vision for a running back," Illing said. "He's got the ability to see cutback lanes, and he's got the ability to make people miss. Those are the things that make good running backs."

Arnold rushed for 1,921 yards and 28 touchdowns as a junior. As a sophomore, Arnold was forced into action as a quarterback and playing primarily tailback last season. This year, Illing said he will combine Arnold's skills into a type of "slash" position -- operating from all areas of the backfield, including a lot of shotgun formations from the quarterback position.

As a defensive back, Arnold intercepted five passes last year.

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