Recruit report: Senior stars still looking for offers

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Jimmy Wheeler, Clintell Gillaspie and Marcus Johnson have a few things in common.

They're gamebreakers on the football field, senior stars on excellent teams and the top three scorers in Western Pennsylvania.

But they are also similar in one other way.

Despite their immense talent, none of them have any scholarship offers.

Wheeler, a 5-foot-9, 170-pound running back at West Mifflin, leads the WPIAL in rushing with 2,008 yards and has scored a WPIAL-best 29 touchdowns. If he runs for 142 yards tonight against Thomas Jefferson, he'll break the WPIAL regular-season rushing record.

Monessen's Gillaspie, who is 6-0, 230, is one of the most versatile running backs to come out of the area in the past few years. Gillaspie has 808 yards rushing, 509 yards receiving and 23 touchdowns. It's the second consecutive season he has rushed for more than 800 yards and had more than 500 yards receiving.

Johnson is a 6-2, 180-pound wide receiver at University Prep who leads all WPIAL and City League players with 1,099 receiving yards, is second in receptions with 48 and has scored 20 touchdowns.

"I've seen them all play, especially my own guy. These guys are football players," Monessen coach Andy Pacak said.

So why aren't college coaches flocking to see them play and tossing scholarship offers their way? Pacak said a lot of it has to do with the way recruiting has changed over the years, in which a growing amount of college coaches are relying too much on the Internet when evaluating players and "recruiting by remote control."

"I just don't know how many people do their legwork and see people play," he said. "I've spent the last three weeks calling everyone on my phone [about Gillaspie]. We're starting to get some interest from people."

Asked what kind of player a school would be getting in Gillaspie, Pacak said, "A beast."

Wheeler, one of the top sprinters in the WPIAL, doesn't have ideal size, which could be holding back some schools from recruiting him, according to West Mifflin coach Ray Braszo. Also, Wheeler still must qualify academically to be eligible at a Division I school.

Wheeler said he gets irritated with the process sometimes, but tries to stay positive.

"It gets a little frustrating, but I don't put myself down," he said. "I'll just keep working harder and harder."

Braszo said of Wheeler: "If you get him on a team that has a big line, he'd be really hard to stop. He's a hard-nosed kid."

Johnson said recently that a Division I-AA school had called his coach to inquire about him, but he has yet to receive any offers.

Another thing Wheeler, Gillaspie and Johnson have going for them is they are all proven winners. Their teams are a combined 23-1 this season.

Florida recruit unique

Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan landed a commitment from a sharp-shooting guard Saturday. What makes Zach Hodskins unique is that he was born without the lower half of his left arm.

Hodskins, a 6-foot-4 senior at Milton High School in Georgia, committed to Florida as a preferred walk-on. Watch a video of Hodskins on YouTube, and it might take a minute to realize he's playing with just his right hand. Hodskins averaged 11 points per game as a junior and made seven 3-pointers in one game.


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