Tangled in the Ivy

It has been a week of wild twists and turns in recruiting already, and Wednesday night brought a bombshell that reset the bar. Big Massachusetts defensive tackle <b>James McGillicuddy</b> revealed that he has committed to a school he just visited. He then cautions that the recruiting race is not quite over...

It's that time of year when recruiting races narrow into recruiting rivalries.  Headlines every day from now through Signing Day on February 2 will bring surprises and drama to the fans who cannot keep themselves away from the irresistible appeal of these stories.  The recruiting junkies soon polarize as they draw battle lines between themselves and their counterparts at other schools.  The wars of words between the tribes can be more heated and heartfelt than when their football teams face off during the regular season.

Quickly rack your brain and name off the top 10 schools you fear may snare a commitment from a Cardinal recruit in the coming weeks.  How about the top 15, 20 or 25.  Unlikely on that list is a school who cannot offer scholarships, per the Ivy League agreement.  But Wednesday night, Harvard shocked several Division I-A schools and their fanbases by securing a commitment from James McGillicuddy, the #34 defensive tackle in the nation.

The 6'3" 300-pound lineman raised eyebrows when he took an official visit to Harvard this past weekend, and it was no surprise that he had a fantastic time.  The Massachusetts man lives less than an hour from the Cambridge campus and has long held academic values that mesh wonderfully with the Crimson.  But scholarship-bearing programs from BCS conferences kneeling on his doorstep, McGillicuddy has been expected to sign with a school that would match him with teammates and pit him against opponents at his talent level.  To close those doors (apparently) for Harvard comes as one of the bigger bombshells of this 2005 recruiting class.

"I've said all along that I'm going to go to the best academic institution I can get into," the St. John's High School senior reminds us.  "Harvard said, 'We need to know if you want to come here so we can get you admitted.'  They needed an answer right away.  I just couldn't pass that opportunity up."

McGillicuddy is already breaking the news and breaking hearts of his final suitors.  The other in-state school who had long been at or near the top of his list is Boston College.  Chestnut Hill is more than just a nearby campus; most of his family tree has graduated from the school.  His brother is currently a student.  According to McGillicuddy, telling the Eagles coaching staff 'no' was probably the hardest thing he has done in this elaborate recruiting journey.

"I told them that honestly I think right now I would rather go to Harvard over BC," he relates.  "It's no offense to Boston College - I have tremendous respect for the school - but that's just what I have to do."

The door is not completely shut on this case, however.  McGillicuddy has taken three official visits, including the nearby trips to his two in-state schools plus one trek to Duke, but a fourth that would take him out West still sits on his calendar.

"I'm still very interested in Stanford.  I still plan on going to Stanford on January 7," the two-way lineman reveals.  "But I need to hear from Stanford.  I haven't talked to them since they hired Coach [Walt] Harris.  I'd really love to hear from Stanford and find out that I'm still on their radar.  I did the work and cleared their admissions, and Coach [Buddy] Teevens offered me."

McGillicuddy has come clean and told Harvard of his visit plans to Palo Alto.  But the blue chip recruit is anxiously waiting to hear this week from the new Cardinal coaching staff what they want to do with him.  Additionally, there is the question of Duke.

"I talked to one of the Duke coaches 20 minutes ago," the Shrewsbury standout said late Wednesday night.  "It's kind of a mess.  I do want to play Division I football, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices."

"If you blow your ACL and never play football again, you want to be at the best school possible," he adds.

This is a story that should mature further in the coming days, depending on what message McGillicuddy receives from the Cardinal.  We'll stay plugged in and share the word as soon as we learn of developments.

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