The rustle your hear coming from the New England area isn't the fallen foliage making it's way through the streets of Mansfield. The origins of the steady shuffle is coming from the desk of Mansfield high school head coach Mike Redding as he sorts through the piles of recruiting letters that arrive daily for his standout defensive end, Corey Eason (6-4, 245).
"I've talked to just about everybody who is in the top 20, and he's been offered by Boston College as of right now," coach Redding said of the recruiting inquiries he's managing for Eason. "They (B.C.) offered him back in September, before we even started the season. I've sent film to Florida State, Miami, Tennessee, Oklahoma, USC, Michigan and Syracuse. You name it, we've sent his juniors to them over the last month."
The attention Eason is drawing from Syracuse, Boston College and Michigan doesn't immediately draw your attention. Certainly those schools recruit the Northeast heavily, but when you see the Florida schools look into a player from the New England area that should start sending off flares.
"He's very good player," coach Redding said of Eason. "We play a lot of four-man front and he plays defensive end. As a junior he played both ways – he played tight end as well. He's a very good blocker and runs and catches very well, but I think he'd be most valuable as a defensive end with the way he runs around. He comes off the edge pretty good, so his pass rushing ability is certainly a big plus. He's a low 4.7-forty kid. That was in August as a 6-5, 245-pound kid.
"The funny thing about Corey is that he played his first snap of football his freshman year. Because of our Pop Warner size limits in Massachusetts, he was always too big. He literally never put on a helmet or shoulder pads until September of his freshman year.
"I think he's just got such great upside and we've seen him just make great improvement from his sophomore to his junior year," Redding continued. "Last year he was probably 215 pounds and benched 225 pounds. This year at 245 pounds he's benching 290 pounds. It's just a major improvement in strength in not just being able to run by people, but now start to run over people. He played the run much, much better this year than he did a year ago. He's added weight, he's added strength and the added experience has made him a much more complete player this year.
"He's a different kid this year with his upper body strength. His aggressiveness is much improved," Redding said of Eason's ability to get off the ball. "He's delivering blows and squeezing the powers when people tried to kick him out. He's just made a lot more plays physically against the run this year than he did a year ago."
The physical gifts are something a player has or they don't. The development of those gifts comes from the people that work with the player during his playing career. Corey Eason has not only been blessed with the physical gifts, but he also works under the guidance of a quality coaching staff.
"He's well coached by a guy, Terry Taylor, who was an All-American tight end at UMass." coach Redding said giving credit to his staff. "He was a captain in their national championship year. He does a very, very good job. Terry still plays in the Arena League with the Arizona Rattlers. He's been in the Arena League now six or seven years as a two-way player. So he's (Eason) getting very good coaching and attention at the high school level."
Many high school programs will have a Division I caliber player come through the program once every 10 years. Because of that a staff can overvalue a very good high school player. Redding, on the other hand, doesn't need to go that far into the memory bank, as he recently had another good one kicking around the practice fields of Mansfield.
"Gerry Willette is up at Boston College," Redding said of his former player. "He was a senior when Corey was a freshman. He was a defensive end that moved into defensive tackle. He was 6-5, 240 pounds in high school. He's up to 270 now. He red-shirted last year and this year he rotated in. Next year he has a chance to start for them and be a three-year player. He's similar to Corey in a lot of ways, so if Corey got to 275 pounds he might end up moving inside. He (Eason) could probably play either spot.
"I would think next year that he'd play at 260 pounds and still be really athletic," Redding said of Eason. "He's a starter on the basketball team. He runs the court real well. He's a good athlete that's just getting bigger and stronger. He's tasting it now. He's very motivated in the weight room and with academics. He definitely knows the opportunities that lie ahead of him if he works hard."
Notre Dame has done a decent job of recruiting the Northeast in previous years, but Irish fans can probably expect an uptick in that trend as the Irish staff has several coaches that have roots on the East Coast.
"Coach Vaas came out a couple weeks ago," Redding said of Irish quarterbacks coach Peter Vass. "I actually know Peter from Holy Cross. I'm a Holy Cross alum (1983) and he's an alumnus of Holy Cross as well."